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The role of demographics on adolescents’ preferences for risk, ambiguity, and prudence

Kim Fairley and Alan G. Sanfey

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2020, vol. 179, issue C, 784-796

Abstract: Given adolescents’ propensity to engage in risky activities, experimentally elicited risk preferences have received much attention in this demographic group. In order to address the likelihood of engaging in potentially harmful activities, this study investigates various correlates of adolescents’ risk preferences. Few studies have looked at other dimensions of decision-making under uncertainty in this important population, and here we attempted to close this gap by conducting a “lab in the field” experiment with adolescents. Our goals were twofold. First, we assessed both standard risk preferences during adolescence, as well as those of ambiguity and the higher order concept of prudence. Second, we examined the influence of individual characteristics of the decision-maker on attitudes towards risk, ambiguity, and prudence. In addition to gender and age, we focused on cognitive and non-cognitive abilities as potential moderators of interest Our results demonstrated that adolescents are risk neutral on average, however they are also typically ambiguity averse and display prudent behavior. Also, we found that various individual factors influenced adolescents’ attitudes towards risk, ambiguity, and prudence. These specific characterizations can greatly aid in targeting policy in adolescence, and we conclude by suggesting several possibilities for these interventions.

Keywords: cognitive ability; non-cognitive ability; adolescence; risk; ambiguity; prudence (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 C93 D81 D91 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:179:y:2020:i:c:p:784-796

DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.03.028

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