Evolution, heritable risk, and skewness loving

Yuval Heller, Arthur Robson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Our understanding of risk preferences can be sharpened by considering their evolutionary basis. The existing literature has focused on two sources of risk: idiosyncratic risk and aggregate risk. We introduce a new source of risk—heritable risk—in which there is a positive correlation between the fitness of a newborn agent and the fitness of her parent. Heritable risk was plausibly common in our evolutionary past and it leads to a strictly higher growth rate than the other sources of risk. We show that the presence of heritable risk in the evolutionary past may explain the tendency of people to exhibit skewness loving today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-424
Number of pages22
JournalTheoretical Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 The Authors.


  • D81
  • D91
  • Evolution of preferences
  • fertility rate
  • long-run growth rate
  • risk attitude
  • risk interdependence


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