No Effect of Birth Order on Adult Risk Taking

Aufsätze referiert extern - Web of Science

Tomas Lejarraga, Renato Frey, Daniel D. Schnitzlein, Ralph Hertwig

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116 (2019), 13, S. 6019-6024


Does birth order shape people’s propensity to take risks? Evidence is mixed. We used a three-pronged approach to investigate birth-order effects on risk taking. First, we examined the propensity to take risks as measured by a self-report questionnaire administered in the German Socio-Economic Panel, one of the largest and most comprehensive household surveys. Second, we drew on data from the Basel–Berlin Risk Study, one of the most exhaustive attempts to measure risk preference. This study administered 39 risk-taking measures, including a set of incentivized behavioral tasks. Finally, we considered the possibility that birth-order differences in risk taking are not reflected in survey responses and laboratory studies. We thus examined another source of behavioral data: the risky life decision to become an explorer or a revolutionary. Findings from these three qualitatively different sources of data and analytic methods point unanimously in the same direction: We found no birth-order effects on risk taking.

Topics: Family

Keywords: birth order, risk taking, family dynamics, SOEP, BBRS