Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns

Paper No. 47

20 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 1996

See all articles by Jens Carsten Jackwerth

Jens Carsten Jackwerth

University of Konstanz - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 23, 1998


A relationship exists between aggregate risk-neutral and subjective probability distributions and risk aversion functions. We empirically derive risk aversion functions implied by option prices and realized returns on the S&P 500 index simultaneously. These risk aversion functions dramatically change shapes around the 1987 crash: Precrash, they are positive and decreasing in wealth and largely consistent with standard economic theory. Postcrash, they are partially negative and partially increasing and irreconcilable with the theory. Mispricing in the option market is the most likely cause. A simulated trading strategy exploiting this mispricing shows excess returns even after accounting for the possibility of further crashes, transaction costs, and hedges against the downside risk.

JEL Classification: G13, G11

Suggested Citation

Jackwerth, Jens Carsten, Recovering Risk Aversion from Option Prices and Realized Returns (July 23, 1998). Paper No. 47. Available at SSRN: or

Jens Carsten Jackwerth (Contact Author)

University of Konstanz - Department of Economics ( email )

Universitaetsstr. 10
Konstanz, 78457
+497531882196 (Phone)
+497531883120 (Fax)


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