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University of Southern California

1. Ng, James L. Essays on the empirics of risk and time preferences in Indonesia.

Degree: PhD, Economics, 2013, University of Southern California

This dissertation consists of three empirical essays investigating the shaping and consequences of individual risk and time preferences in Indonesia. Risk and time preferences were elicited using hypothetical questions in the 2007/08 wave of the Indonesian Family Life Survey. ❧ The first essay finds risk and time preferences to be systematically related to respondent demographics and cognition. The main findings are as follows. Men are less risk averse than women, older respondents are more impatient, wealthier respondents are less risk averse and less impatient, better educated adults are less impatient, and adults with better cognitive capacity proxied by episodic memory are less impatient. In addition, the preference elicitation procedure revealed individuals with nonstandard preferences, in that they chose a dominated payoff. Measures of cognitive capacity are associated with the likelihood of having nonstandard preferences in expected ways. Respondents with better episodic memory are less likely to be nonstandard. Better educated respondents are less likely to be nonstandard, in some cases. ❧ The second essay reports evidence that interviewer characteristics can influence survey-elicited preferences. The empirical models from the first essay are augmented with controls for interviewer language ability, interview language, measures of social distance between interviewers and respondents, and interviewer human capital. The main finding is that where interviewers and respondents do not share a daily spoken language, respondents are more likely to show nonstandard preferences. This effect is found only in interviews conducted in languages other than the national language. However, estimates of the original explanatory variables are not changed by the inclusion of interviewer characteristics, suggesting that interviewers are not an important source of omitted variable bias in estimations of the determinants of survey-elicited preferences. ❧ The third essay asks whether survey-elicited risk and time preferences can explain the transition into adulthood of Indonesian adults. I look at the correlations of survey-elicited risk and time preferences with economic decisions commonly thought of as markers of adulthood: schooling attainment, marriage, fertility behavior, migration, and full time employment. The results suggest that differences in risk and time preferences do explain some of the variation in economic decisions. Risk averse men attain fewer years of schooling, while risk aversion is not significantly associated with women's schooling. Impatient men and women attain fewer years of schooling. Risk averse men and women marry earlier, and so do impatient women. Married couples positively sort on risk and time preferences. Women who are more risk averse and more patient are less likely to use birth control. Highly risk averse men are less likely to migrate. Risk and time preferences are not significantly correlated with entry into full time employment. However, risk aversion is negatively correlated with selection… Advisors/Committee Members: Strauss, John A. (Committee Chair), Nugent, Jeffrey B. (Committee Member), Wilkie, Simon J. (Committee Member), Painter, Gary Dean (Committee Member).

Subjects/Keywords: risk aversion; time preference; Indonesia; interviewer effect; adulthood transition

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APA (6th Edition):

Ng, J. L. (2013). Essays on the empirics of risk and time preferences in Indonesia. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Southern California. Retrieved from

Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):

Ng, James L. “Essays on the empirics of risk and time preferences in Indonesia.” 2013. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Southern California. Accessed December 01, 2020.

MLA Handbook (7th Edition):

Ng, James L. “Essays on the empirics of risk and time preferences in Indonesia.” 2013. Web. 01 Dec 2020.


Ng JL. Essays on the empirics of risk and time preferences in Indonesia. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Southern California; 2013. [cited 2020 Dec 01]. Available from:

Council of Science Editors:

Ng JL. Essays on the empirics of risk and time preferences in Indonesia. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Southern California; 2013. Available from: