March 2020

IZA DP No. 13054: Becoming Sensitive: Males' Risk and Time Preferences after the 2008 Financial Crisis

Michael Jetter, Leandro Magnusson, Sebastian Roth

This paper presents evidence suggesting men's (but not women's) risk and time preferences have systematically become sensitive to local economic conditions since the 2008 financial crisis. Studying longitudinal, nationally representative data for 22,579 Australian-based respondents in up to 11 surveys from 2002-2015, men respond with increased risk aversion and impatience to a rise in their region's unemployment rate – but only since 2008. We find no such relationship for women or before the crisis. This conclusion persists when accounting for individual-level fixed effects, demographics, national economic conditions, the individual's employment situation, income, wealth, as well as region- and time-specific unobservables. Exploring a potential mechanism, higher regional unemployment rates are also linked to men (but not women) being more unhappy since 2008. This 'happiness channel' only partially explains the link between the local unemployment rate and risk preferences.