Selection and mode effects in risk preference elicitation experiments

We combine data from a risk preference elicitation experiment conducted on a representative sample via the Internet with laboratory data on student subjects for the same experiment in order to investigate effects of implementation mode and of subject poolselection. We find that the frequency of errors in the lab experiment is drastically below that of the representative sample in the Internet experiment. Average risk aversion is lower in the lab as well. Considering the student-like subsample of the Internet subjectsand comparing a traditional lab design with an Internet-like design in the lab gives two ways to decompose these differences into di erences due to subject pool selection and differences due to implementation mode. Both lead to the conclusion that the differencesare due to selection and not to implementation mode. An analysis of the various steps leading to participation or non-participation in the Internet shows that these processes are selective in selecting subjects who make fewer errors, but do not lead to biased conclusionson risk preferences. These findings point at the usefulness of the Internet survey as an alternative to a student pool in the laboratory if the ambition is to draw inference on a broad population.

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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