An experimental investigation of social risk preferences for health

Arthur E. Attema*, Olivier L’Haridon, Gijs van de Kuilen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In this paper, we use the risk apportionment technique of Eeckhoudt, Rey and Schlesinger (2007) to study higher order risk preferences for others’ health as well as ex-ante and ex-post inequality preferences for social risky distributions, and their interaction. In an experiment on a sample of university students acting as impartial spectators, we observe risk aversion towards social health losses and a dislike of ex-ante inequality. In addition, evidence for ex-post inequality seeking is much weaker than evidence for ex-ante inequality aversion. Because ex-ante inequality aversion is unrelated to risk aversion, we conclude that simple forms of utilitarianism are not relevant for individual judgment of social risk over health. Last, our investigation of precautionary distribution, which would occur when one particular group in the society suffers from background health risk, shows substantial polarization of preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-403
Number of pages25
JournalTheory and Decision
Issue number3
Early online date27 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Agence Nationale de la Recherche,Ordineq-ANR-16-CE41,Olivier L’Haridon,Institut Universitaire de France

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


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