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Do risk and time preferences have biological roots?

Drichoutis, Andreas and Nayga, Rodolfo (2012): Do risk and time preferences have biological roots?

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Abstract

We revisit the claims about the biological underpinnings of economic behavior by specifically exploring if observed gender differences in risk/time preferences can be explained by natural fluctuations in progesterone/estradiol levels during the menstrual cycle and by prenatal exposure to testosterone levels. Results suggest that natural fluctuations in progesterone levels have a direct effect on discount rates and that estradiol/progesterone levels can indirectly affect time preferences by changing the curvature of the utility function. Using measured D2:D4 digit ratio, results imply that subjects with low digit ratio exhibit higher discount rates and risk loving preferences.

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