Personal Life Events and the Stability of Preferences

Using a large sample of the Dutch working population, this study investigates if and how risk, time, and social preferences are affected by personal life events. Specifically, we investigate whether changes in marital status and parenthood are associated with changes in preferences. We elicit risk, time, and social preferences using survey questions where people provide self-assessed preferences (stated preferences) as well as methods where financial incentives are used and people can earn money (revealed preferences). Using register data of Statistics Netherlands, personal life events are linked with the elicited preferences of participants. Besides immediate effects of personal life events, we explore how long such effects last. Recent marriage is found to have some effect on revealed social preferences, but not on risk and time preferences. Recent divorce is associated with less revealed risk-taking and higher stated patience but has no effect on social preferences. Recent parenthood is associated with more revealed risk-taking and higher stated patience but not with social preferences.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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