Risk taking and risk sharing: Does responsibility matter?

  • Elena Cettolin Elena Cettolin
  • Franziska Tausch Franziska Tausch

Risk sharing arrangements diminish individuals’ vulnerability to probabilistic events that negatively affect their financial situation. This is because risk sharing implies redistribution,as lucky individuals support the unlucky ones. We hypothesize that responsibility for risky choices decreases individuals’ willingness to share risk by dampening redistribution motives, and investigate this conjecture with a laboratory experiment. Responsibility is created by allowing participants to choose between two different risky lotteries before they decide how much risk they share with a randomly matched partner. Risk sharing is then compared to atreatment where risk exposure is randomly assigned. We find that average risk sharing does not depend on whether individuals can control their risk exposure. However, we observe that when individuals are responsible for their risk exposure, risk sharing decisions are systematically conditioned on the risk exposure of the sharing partner, whereas this is not the case when risk exposure is random.

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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