Investments in protective measures involve an initial immediate cost in exchange for a stream of potential benefits accruing over time in the form of reduced expected losses. This paper describes two studies in which individuals were asked both to make choices and indicate the maximum amount they were willing to pay (WTP) for such protective measures. By varying the number of years that the measures provided protection, we observed four different decision strategies that individuals use to determine their maximum WTP. The findings from these experiments strongly suggest that most individuals do not take into account the added benefits of having a protective measure in place over a longer period of time when determining the likelihood of purchasing protection or the maximum price they are willing to pay. The behavior of a relatively small proportion of the subjects was consistent with a discounted utility model. Most subjects were either myopic in their behavior or did not change their maximum WTP as the time horizon changed. Despite the fact that most subjects were insensitive to time changes, they were generally willing to purchase the protective measures. Implications of these results for investment in risk mitigation measures are briefly explored.
Journal of Risk and Uncertainty – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 4, 2004
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