Dead Reckoning: Demographic Determinants of the Accuracy of Mortality Risk Perceptions

35 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2003

See all articles by Jahn Karl Hakes

Jahn Karl Hakes

Albion College - Department of Economics and Management; Albion College

W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics

Date Written: August 2003

Abstract

General patterns of bias in risk beliefs are well established in the literature, but much less is known about how these biases vary across the population. Using a sample of almost 500 people, the regression analysis in this paper yields results consistent with the well established pattern that small risks are overassessed and large risks are underassessed. The accuracy of these risk beliefs varies across demographic factors, as does the switch point at which people go from underassessment to overassessment, which we found to be 1,500 deaths annually for the full sample. Better educated people have more accurate risk beliefs, and there are important differences in the risk perception by race and gender that also may be of policy interest.

Keywords: risk perception, mortality risks

JEL Classification: D80

Suggested Citation

Hakes, Jahn Karl and Hakes, Jahn Karl and Viscusi, W. Kip, Dead Reckoning: Demographic Determinants of the Accuracy of Mortality Risk Perceptions (August 2003). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=441800 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.441800

Jahn Karl Hakes (Contact Author)

Albion College - Department of Economics and Management ( email )

Albion, MI 49224
United States
517-629-0650 (Phone)
517-629-0428 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://people.albion.edu/jhakes

Albion College ( email )

113 Robinson Hall
Albion, MI 49224
United States
517-629-0650 (Phone)

W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7715 (Phone)
615-322-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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