Exploring risk attitude by a comparative experimental approach and its implication to disaster insurance practice in China

  • Authors: YE Tao, WANG Ming
  • Published in: 2013
  • Published on: Journal of Risk Research. DOI:10.1080/13669877.2012.743159


This study employs the ordered lottery selection approach with field experiment to measure risk attitude of two distinct population groups in China – farmers in Wuhan and freelancers in media and advertising in Beijing. A comparative design was used to reveal the cross-population difference in risk attitude and its affecting factors. The results showed that both groups exhibited constant partial
risk aversion and decreasing absolute risk aversion, while the farmers were more risk-averse than the freelancers. The farmer and freelancer respondents demonstrated very different sensitivity to the warming-up games types involving ‘gainonly’ or ‘gain-loss’ while extremely risk-averse respondents in the warming-up games possessed the consistent attitudinal behavior in the formal tests. The comparative experiment revealed that gender and income were two statistically significant factors affecting risk attitude and they appeared to be consistent across the two distinct groups. Surprisingly, respondents’ perceived frequency of risk occurrence was not correlated to their risk attitude. Moreover, the factors of leisure and investment behavior were significantly linked to the freelancers’ risk attitude but not the farmers’. The experiment also found a non-linear relationship between risk attitude and education, and receiving college education was found to be a critical switching point that was significantly linked to respondents’ risk choices. While further research is needed to better understand the governing mechanism in risk attitude, perception, and behavior, this paper tried to link the experimental results to the natural disaster insurance practice in China and discussed their implication to the policy design.

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