Are oldest, middle or youngest kids the biggest risk takers?


Middle children are the biggest risk takers in terms of birth order (which surprised me — I would have guessed youngest):

We analyze the impacts of birth order and presence/absence of siblings on risk preferences with respect to economic, health/safety, and sport/lifestyle related risks. We study both the answer to a hypothetical lottery question and stated risky behavior and find that middle-borns are consistently less risk averse than others irrespective of the type of risk. Moreover, the answer to the lottery question is strongly correlated with economic and sport/lifestyle related risky behavior.

Source: “Risk-taking middle-borns: A study on birth-order and risk preferences” from Göteborg University, Working Papers in Economics, number 438

Also: Yeah, you get some of your risk-taking preferences genetically from your parents:

This study employs multiple regression models based on DeFries and Fulker (1985), and a large sample of twins, to assess heritability in attitudes towards economic risk, and the extent to which this heritability differs between males and females. Consistent with Cesarini, Dawes, Johannesson, Lichtenstein and Wallace (2009), it is found that attitudes towards risk are moderately heritable, with about 20 percent of the variation in these attitudes across individuals being linked to genetic differences. This value is less than one-half the estimates reported by Zyphur, Narayanan, Arvey and Alexander (2009) and Zhong, Chew, Set, Zhang, Xue, Sham, Ebstein and Israel (2009). While females are more risk averse than males, there is no evidence that heritability in attitudes towards risk differs between males and females. Even though heritability is shown to be important to economic risk taking, the analyses suggest that multivariate studies of the determinants of attitudes towards risk which to not take heritability into consideration still provide reliable estimates of the partial effects of other key variables, such as gender and educational attainment.

Source: “Are Attitudes Towards Economic Risk Heritable? Analyses Using the Australian Twin Study of Gambling” from IZA Discussion Paper No. 4859, March 2010

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