Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Do Personal Experiences or Wealth Changes Affect Risk Taking?

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We study how personal experiences affect individual risk taking. To separate the intertwining effects of personal experiences and wealth changes, our identification strategy relies on the decision to keep unexpected inheritances of risky assets. Experience derives from investments in banks that defaulted in the aftermath of the financial crisis. To differentiate the effect of personal experiences, we classify the degrees of experiences into first-hand experiences from personal losses, second-hand experiences from the losses of close family members, and third-hand experiences from living in municipalities where banks defaulted. We find that third-hand experiences result in marginally lower risk taking. Second-hand experiences have a relatively stronger negative effect, whereas the effect of first-hand experiences on risk taking is strongly negative. Overall, our results demonstrate that personal experiences aside from changes in wealth explain substantial heterogeneity in individuals’ risk taking.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventThe 43rd European Finance Association Annual Meeting (EFA 2016) - BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway
Duration: 17 Aug 201620 Aug 2016
Conference number: 43


ConferenceThe 43rd European Finance Association Annual Meeting (EFA 2016)
LocationBI Norwegian Business School
Internet address


  • Experiences
  • Inertia
  • Risk taking
  • Financial crisis
  • Household finance

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