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The Roots of Caution

Summary:
Last month, I ran this pair of Twitter polls.  I was quite surprised by the asymmetric responses. Few participants think that objective risk is the leading cause of caution.  This makes sense to me; high profile cases aside, I don’t see the elderly being especially cautious, or the young being especially reckless.  (Though admittedly, it’s pretty hard to see anyone these days).  But when they want to explain low caution, they’re pretty evenly divided between the other explanations.  When they want to explain high caution, in contrast, “higher risk-aversion” is the overwhelming winner. I’m puzzled.  Are you?  Why or why not?

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Last month, I ran this pair of Twitter polls.  I was quite surprised by the asymmetric responses.

The Roots of Caution

Few participants think that objective risk is the leading cause of caution.  This makes sense to me; high profile cases aside, I don’t see the elderly being especially cautious, or the young being especially reckless.  (Though admittedly, it’s pretty hard to see anyone these days).  But when they want to explain low caution, they’re pretty evenly divided between the other explanations.  When they want to explain high caution, in contrast, “higher risk-aversion” is the overwhelming winner.

I’m puzzled.  Are you?  Why or why not?

Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, FoxNews, and C-SPAN. Bryan Caplan blogs on EconLog.

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