Spousal differences in financial risk tolerance

Personal Finance February 07, 2017 Print Friendly and PDF


Gilliam, J.E., Goetz, J.W. & Hampton, V. L. (2008). Spousal differences in financial risk tolerance. Financial Counseling and Planning, 19(1), 3-11.

Brief Description: This study explored the financial risk tolerance of 110 couples who completed a Web-based survey. Wives who were university graduates had a higher tolerance for risk, whereas their husbands’ mean risk tolerance score was lower than husbands whose wives did not have degrees. Perhaps, due to a higher level of household income, it is unnecessary for the husband to take a higher level of risk to accomplish their goals.

Implications: Couples working with financial advisers should discuss their respective risk tolerance levels because advisers often assume that husbands are more risk tolerant than wives. Spouses need to assess their individual perceptions of risk. Nobody should “presume” another person’s financial risk tolerance by using demographic characteristics as a “shortcut” for a thorough exploration of perceptions and understanding.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.