Verifying reference-dependent utility and loss aversion with Fukushima nuclear-disaster natural experiment

Keiko Iwasaki, Myoung jae Lee, Yasuyuki Sawada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We verify prospect theory with natural experimental data by adopting regression kink design. Our data were collected in 2013 and 2014 from residents displaced by the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in 2011. We examine how a sudden gain/loss affects stress/utility in four dimensions/resources: family size, health, house size, and income. We find that (i) there is a higher sensitivity to losses from a reference point than to gains (i.e., loss aversion) in health, and possibly in income as well, (ii) the reference point may change over time, and (iii) value function is not separable in the four dimensions/resources. These findings have a few implications. First, in view of the loss aversion, a sufficient—apparently more than enough—compensation should be provided to those who lost so that they can regain the original utility. Second, if the reference point is lowered, the victims must be over-compensated for their loss to recover the original utility. Third, separable value functions should be used with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Japanese and International Economies
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the local government officials and residents of Futaba town for their cooperation in our study. We also thank Stefano DellaVigna, Naoki Kondo, Naoko Okuyama, Sarath Sanga, Takeshi Murooka, Wenjie Wang, Botond K öszegi, and an anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments. This study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant Nos. 15J09313 , 26220502 and LZ003 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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