Working Paper

The baking of preferences throughout high school


The purpose of this study is to examine whether girls and boys exhibit different risk and time preferences and how this difference evolves during the critical phase of adolescence. To achieve this, we use a large and powered sample of 4830 non-self-selected teenagers from 207 classes across 22 Spanish schools with very different socioeconomic backgrounds. Alongside time and risk preferences, we also collected additional information about class attributes, social network measures, students’ characteristics, and the average level of economic preferences of friends. These measures enable us to account for potentially omitted variables that were not considered in previous studies. The results indicate that there are no significant gender differences in time and risk preferences, but older subjects exhibit more sophisticated time preferences and higher risk aversion. We also perform an exploratory heterogeneity analysis, which unveils two important results: first, cognitive abilities play a critical role in the development of time and risk preferences; second, interaction within the class social network does matter.

JEL codes: C91, D81.

Keywords: Developmental decision-making, economic preferences, Field Experiment, Teenagers