Staff Paper No. 542 - Abstract
Choices under Risk in Rural Peru
This paper estimates the risk preferences of cotton farmers in Southern Peru, using the results from a multiple-price-list lottery game. Assuming that preferences conform to two of the leading models of decision under risk|Expected Utility Theory (EUT) and Cumulative Prospect Theory (CPT) -- we find strong evidence of moderate risk aversion. Once we include individual characteristics in the estimation of risk parameters, we observe that farmers use subjective nonlinear probability weighting, a behavior consistent with CPT. Interestingly, when we allow for preference heterogeneity via the estimation of mixture models -- where the proportion of subjects who behave according to EUT or to CPT is endogenously determined -- we find that the majority of farmers’ choices are best explained by CPT. We further hypothesize that the multiple switching behavior observed in our sample can be explained by nonlinear probability weighting made in a context of large random calculation mistakes; the evidence found on this regard is mixed. Finally, we find that attaining higher education is the single most important individual characteristic correlated with risk preferences, a result that suggests a connection between cognitive abilities and behavior towards risk.
Last updated on Wed, Oct 7, 2009 2:25pm