Hardship ups risk-taking even in old age

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London, Jan 9 (IANS) While the propensity to take physical, social, legal or financial risks generally decreases with age, in countries with great poverty and difficult living conditions, risk-taking remains high even in old age, says an interesting study.

“We were able to show that in countries with great poverty and difficult living conditions, the propensity to take risks remains high even in old age,” said Rui Mata, assistant professor at University of Basel in Switzerland.

“One reason could be that citizens of countries in which resources are scarce have to compete with each other more fiercely than in wealthier countries,” Mata explained.

The study found that in most countries, the willingness to take risks in an everyday context decreases with age, including Germany, Russia and the US. In these countries, men on average are also much more disposed to take risks than women.

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But in other countries, such as Nigeria, Mali and Pakistan, risk behaviour is more stable across age and more similar between the sexes.

These findings are based on data from 77 countries. The researchers analysed data from the World Values Survey (see box), an international survey that surveyed the values and views of people from all over the world.

In doing so, they compared a total of 147,118 responses from people aged 15 to 99, 52 percent of whom were women, out of a total of 77 countries.

The study traced age-related changes in risk propensity in different life domains over a time span of up to ten years.

Participants were asked to indicate their propensity towards adventurous and risky activities on a scale of one and six.

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“The results highlight the fact that when studying human development, we need to take into account the interactions between cognition, behaviour and environment,” study co-author Ralph Hertwig from Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, noted.

The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.

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