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Population Age Structure and Asset Returns: An Empirical Investigation

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  • James M. Poterba

Abstract

This paper investigates the association between population age structure, particularly the share of the population in the saving years is motivated by the claim that the aging of the in the United States is a key factor in explaining the recent rise in asset values. It also addresses the associated claim that asset prices will decline when this large cohort reaches retirement age and begins to reduce its asset holdings. This paper begins by considering household age-asset accumulation profiles. Data from the Survey of Consumer Finances suggest that while cross-sectional age-wealth profiles peak for households in their early 60s, cohort data on the asset ownership of the same households show a much less pronounced peak. Wealthy households with substantial asset holdings appear to decumulate slowly, if at all, after retirement. This casts doubt on the (excluding defined benefit pension assets) that households control directly. The paper then considers the historical relationship between demographic structure and real returns on Treasury bills, long-term government bonds, and corporate stock. The results do not suggest any robust relationship between demographic structure and asset returns. This is partly due to the limited power of statistical tests based on the few structure and asset returns in the United States and other developed economies. The paper concludes by discussing factors such as international capital flows and forward-looking behavior on the part of market participants that could weaken the relationship between age structure and asset returns in a single nation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6774.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6774

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  1. Alan M. Taylor, 1996. "International Capital Mobility in History: The Saving-Investment Relationship," NBER Working Papers 5743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw & David N. Weil, 1990. "The Baby Boom, The Baby Bust, and the Housing Market," NBER Working Papers 2794, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Martin Feldstein & Charles Horioka, 1979. "Domestic Savings and International Capital Flows," NBER Working Papers 0310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Steven A. Sass & Robert K. Triest, 1997. "Social Security: how social and secure should it be?," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 41(Jun), pages 29-63.
  5. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
  6. James M. Poterba & Andrew A. Samwick, 1995. "Stock Ownership Patterns, Stock Market Fluctuations, and Consumption," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 295-372.
  7. Kenneth R. French & James M. Poterba, 1991. "Investor Diversification and International Equity Markets," NBER Working Papers 3609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sylvester J. Schieber & John B. Shoven, 1994. "The Consequences of Population Aging on Private Pension Fund Saving and Asset Markets," NBER Working Papers 4665, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bohn, Henning, 1999. "Will social security and Medicare remain viable as the U.S. population is aging?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-53, June.
  10. James M. Poterba & Andrew A. Samwick, 1997. "Household Portfolio Allocation Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 6185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Narciso, Alexandre, 2010. "The impact of population ageing on international capital flows," MPRA Paper 26457, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Louise M. Sheiner, 2000. "Should America save for its old age? Population aging, national saving, and fiscal policy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. Christophe Boucher, 2003. "Stock Market Valuation : the Role of the Macroeconomic Risk Premium," Finance 0305011, EconWPA.
  4. Panetta, Ida Claudia, 2006. "Financial markets trend: ageing and pension system reform," MPRA Paper 18391, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Campello, Murillo & Graham, John R., 2013. "Do stock prices influence corporate decisions? Evidence from the technology bubble," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 89-110.
  6. Dauriol, Julie, 2005. "Les comportements d’accumulation patrimoniale des ménages français : existe-t-il un effet de génération ?," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4094, Paris Dauphine University.
  7. Hugo Benitez-Silva, 2000. "A Dynamic Model of Labor Supply, Consumption/Saving, and Annuity Decisions under Uncertainty," Department of Economics Working Papers 00-06, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  8. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Louise M. Sheiner, 2000. "Should America Save for Its Old Age? Fiscal Policy, Population Aging, and National Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 57-74, Summer.
  9. Henning Bohn, 2001. "Social Security and Demographic Uncertainty: The Risk-Sharing Properties of Alternative Policies," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 203-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Carol Bertaut & Martha Starr-McCluer, 2000. "Household portfolios in the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-26, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Lindh, Thomas & Malmberg, Bo, 2002. "Swedish post-war economic development. The role of age structure in a welfare state," Arbetsrapport 2003:4, Institute for Futures Studies.
  12. Christian Helmenstein & Alexia Prskawetz & Yuri Yegorov, 2002. "Wealth and cohort size: stock market boom or bust ahead?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-051, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  13. Hugo Benitez-Silva, 2000. "A Dynamic Model Of Labor Supply, Consumption/Saving, And Annuity Decisions Under Uncertainty," Computing in Economics and Finance 2000 128, Society for Computational Economics.
  14. Brian McCulloch & Jane Frances, 2001. "Financing New Zealand Superannuation," Treasury Working Paper Series 01/20, New Zealand Treasury.
  15. Hugo Benítez-Silva, 2003. "The Annuity Puzzle Revisited," Working Papers wp055, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  16. Andersson, Björn, 2001. "Portfolio Allocation over the Life Cycle: Evidence from Swedish Household Data," Working Paper Series 2001:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.

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