Financial Risk Aversion Among Older Black and White Adults

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2024 Feb 1;79(2):gbad169. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbad169.


Objectives: Risk aversion has a substantial impact on decision making and is associated with key demographic characteristics. However, few studies have investigated whether risk aversion varies by race.

Methods: We investigated racial differences in financial risk aversion in 684 older Black and White adults without dementia in the Minority Aging Research Study and Rush Memory and Aging Project matched for age, education, sex, and cognition using Mahalanobis distance. We also investigated whether select contextual factors (self-reported discrimination, socioeconomic status, and literacy) mediated or affective factors (trust, loneliness, and neuroticism) moderated any observed racial differences.

Results: In regression models adjusted for age, education, sex, and cognitive function, older Black adults were more risk averse than older White adults (Beta = 0.1264, standard error = 0.0227, p value ≤ .00001). None of the contextual or affective factors mediated or moderated this association.

Discussion: Older Black adults are more financially risk averse than older White adults. Because risk aversion may be associated with important financial and health outcomes in older age, more research is needed to investigate the reasons for this difference.

Keywords: Disparities; Gamma; Race; Risk aversion.

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / psychology
  • Black People* / psychology
  • Cognition*
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People* / psychology