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Who Becomes a Stockholder? Expectations, SUbjective Uncertainty, and Asset Allocation

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  • Gábor Kézdi

    (University of Michigan)

  • Robert J. Willis

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

We develop a model of portfolio selection with subjective uncertainty and learning in order to explain why some people hold stocks while others don’t. We model heterogeneity in information directly, which is an alternative to the existing explanations that emphasized heterogeneity in transaction costs of investment. We plan to calibrate the model to survey data (when available) on people’s perception about the distribution of stock market returns. Our approach also leads to a model of learning with new implications such as zero optimal risky assets, or ex post correlation of uncorrelated labor income and optimal portfolio composition. It also points to two factors in probabilistic thinking that should have a major impact on stock ownership. These are the level and the precision of expectations. We construct proxy measures for the two parameters from the 1992-2000 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). We use a large battery of the subjective probability questions administered in each wave of HRS to construct an overall “index of optimism” (the correlated factor between all subjective probabilities) and “index of precision” (the fraction of nonfocal probability answers, following Lillard and Willis, 2001). We also construct measures for how people forecast the weather, their cognitive capacity, wealth, and basic demographics. Our results indicate that stock ownership and the probability of becoming a stockholder are strongly positively correlated with the indices of the level and precision of expectations. Interpretation of the former is quite challenging and further research is needed to understand its full content.

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File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp039.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp039.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp039

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  1. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
  2. Campbell, John Y. & Viceira, Luis M., 2002. "Strategic Asset Allocation: Portfolio Choice for Long-Term Investors," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198296942.
  3. Shleifer, Andrei, 2000. "Inefficient Markets: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292272.
  4. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  5. Gennotte, Gerard, 1986. " Optimal Portfolio Choice under Incomplete Information," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 41(3), pages 733-46, July.
  6. James Tobin, 1956. "Liquidity Preference as Behavior Towards Risk," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 14, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-57, August.
  8. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lee Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 2001. "Cognition and Wealth: The Importance of Probabilistic Thinking," Working Papers wp007, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  10. Willis, Robert J., 1999. "Theory confronts data: how the HRS is shaped by the economics of aging and how the economics of aging will be shaped by the HRS," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 119-145, June.
  11. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-29, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Chapman, Kenneth & Dow, James Jr. & Hariharan, Govind, 2005. "Changes in stockholding behavior: Evidence from household survey data," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 89-96, June.
  2. Nejat Anbarci & Mehmet A. Ulubasoglu, 2005. "Intersectoral Size Differences and Migration: Kuznets Revisited," Working Papers 0505, Florida International University, Department of Economics.
  3. Laura Kawano, 2014. "The Dividend Clientele Hypothesis: Evidence from the 2003 Tax Act," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 114-36, February.
  4. Yannis Bilias & Michael Haliassos, 2004. "The Distribution of Gains from Access to Stocks," CSEF Working Papers 125, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  5. Fang, Hanming & Keane, Michael & Silverman, Dan, 2006. "Sources of Advantageous Selection: Evidence from the Medigap Insurance Market," Working Papers 17, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  6. Adeline Delavande & Michael Perry & Robert Willis, 2006. "Probabilistic Thinking and Early Social Security Claiming," Working Papers wp129, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  7. Kristin J. Kleinjans & Jinkook Lee, 2006. "The link between individual expectations and savings: Do nursing home expectations matter?," Economics Working Papers 2006-05, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  8. Aydogan Ulker, 2004. "Wealth Holdings and Portfolio Allocation of Older Couples: The Role of Spouses’ Marital History," CEPR Discussion Papers 477, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  9. Aydogan Ulker, 2008. "Wealth Holdings and Portfolio Allocation of the Elderly: The Role of Marital History," Economics Series 2008_16, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  10. Almenberg, Johan & Dreber, Anna, 2011. "Gender, Stock Market Participation and Financial Literacy," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 737, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 16 Aug 2011.

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