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On the stability of risk and time preferences amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Drichoutis, Andreas C. and Nayga, Rodolfo (2020): On the stability of risk and time preferences amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Abstract

We elicited incentivized and stated measures of risk and time preferences from a sample of undergraduate students in Athens, Greece, as part of a battery of psychological, behavioral and economic measures and traits that could be later matched with data from laboratory experiments. Data collection for these measures was first initiated in 2017 and the exact same battery of measures was administered in 2019 and early 2020 to students of the university that had voluntarily enrolled to participate in surveys/experiments. About halfway through the 2020 wave, our study was re-designed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We re-launched our study on March 23, 2020, coinciding with a general curfew imposed by the government, and invited back all subjects that had participated in the 2019 and the early 2020 wave. The exact same sets of incentivized and stated measures of risk and time preferences were administered to the invited subjects and the wave duration was extended until a few weeks after the opening up of the economy and restart of business activity that followed the curfew. We then estimated structural parameters for various theories of risk and time preferences from the incentivized tasks and find no effect between the different waves or other key events of the pandemic, despite the fact that we have about 1,000 responses across all waves. Similar conclusions come out of the stated preferences measures. Overall, our subjects exhibit intertemporal stability of risk and time preferences despite the very disruptive effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy.

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