Data Management

Depression Babies: Do Macroeconomic Experiences Affect Risk-Taking?

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Executive Summary

The authors investigate whether individuals' experiences of macro-economic outcomes have long-term effects on their risk attitudes, as often suggested for the generation that experienced the Great Depression. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances from 1964-2004, they find that individuals who have experienced low stock-market returns throughout their lives report lower willingness to take financial risk, are less likely to participate in the stock market, and, conditional on participating, invest a lower fraction of their liquid assets in stocks. Individuals who have experienced low bond returns are less likely to own bonds. All results are estimated controlling for age, year effects, and a broad set of household characteristics.

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