Review of Economics of the Household

pp 1-25

First online:

Parenting is risky business: parental risk attitudes in small stakes decisions on behalf of their children

  • Franziska ZiegelmeyerAffiliated withGeorg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • , Michael ZiegelmeyerAffiliated withMunich Center for the Economics of Aging Email author 

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Parents often face risk when making decisions on behalf of their children, since outcomes may affect child development. We perform an incentive-compatible field experiment using the Holt and Laury (Am Econ Rev 92(5):1644–1655, 2002) design to elicit parental risk preferences in a stewardship decision framework. Multivariate analysis using different estimation techniques suggests that parents are significantly more risk-averse when deciding for their child than for themselves. Higher risk aversion is linked to characteristics of parents, not of children. Mood and gender of the deciding parent play a key role. If these results also hold for larger stakes, insights from this study could help to improve decision environments for parents to limit inequality between children due to diverging parental risk preferences.


Risk preference Parents Children Lottery choice Experiment Survey

JEL Classification

C9 D10 D80