Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 2 > Issue 2

An Estimate of Risk Aversion in the U.S. Electorate

Adam J. Berinsky, Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, berinsky@mit.edu Jeffrey B. Lewis, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, jblewis@ucla.edu
Suggested Citation
Adam J. Berinsky and Jeffrey B. Lewis (2007), "An Estimate of Risk Aversion in the U.S. Electorate", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 2: No. 2, pp 139-154. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00005055

Publication Date: 15 May 2007
© 2007 A. J. Berinsky and J. B. Lewis
Voting theory,  Political psychology,  Voting behavior


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In this article:
A Simple Spatial Model of Vote Choice Under Uncertainty
Data and Estimation
Risk Preferences in the us Electorate, 1972–1996
1972 Risk Proclivity Analysis
Appendix A: Proof of the Proposition that Voters' Risk Preferences can be Ordered by the Concavity of Their Utility Functions


Recent work in political science has taken up the question of issue voting under conditions of uncertainty – situations in which voters have imperfect information about the policy positions of candidates. We move beyond the assumption of a particular spatial utility function and develop a model to estimate voters' preferences for risk. Contrary to the maintained hypothesis in the literature, voters do not appear to have the strongly risk averse preferences implied by quadratic preferences.