NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Optimism and Economic Choice

Manju Puri, David Robinson

NBER Working Paper No. 11361
Issued in May 2005
NBER Program(s):   AP   CF

This paper presents some of the first large-scale survey evidence linking optimism to major economic choices. We create a novel measure of optimism using the Survey of Consumer Finance by comparing a person's self-reported life expectancy to that implied by statistical tables. Optimists are more likely to believe that future economic conditions will improve. Self-employed respondents are more optimistic than regular wage earners. In general, more optimistic people work harder and anticipate longer age-adjusted work careers. They are more likely to remarry, conditional on divorce. In addition, they tilt their investment portfolios more toward individual stocks.

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Published: Puri, Manju & Robinson, David T., 2007. "Optimism and economic choice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 71-99, October.

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