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Wealth Portfolios in the UK and the US

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  • James Banks
  • Richard Blundell
  • James P. Smith

Abstract

In this paper, we attempt to explain differences between the US and UK household wealth distributions, with an emphasis on the quite different porfolios held in stock and housing equities in the two countries. As a proportion of their total wealth, British households hold relatively small amounts of financial assets - including equities in stock - compared to American households. In contrast, British households appear to move into home ownership at relatively young ages and a large fraction of their household wealth is concentrated in houseing. Finally, the age gradient in home equity appears to be much steeper in the UK while US households exhibit a steeper age gradient in stock equity. We argue that the higher price housing price volatility in the UK combined with much younger entry into home ownership there are important factors accounting for the relatively small participation of young British householders in the stock market. We show it is important to acknowledge the dual role of housing - providing both wealth and consumption services - in understanding wealth accumulation differences between the US and the UK. Institutional differences, particularly in housing markets, that affect the demand and supply of housing services, turn out to be important in generating portfolio differences between the two countries. In particular, these differences in housing price risk imply steeper life-cycle accumulations in housing and less steep accumulation in stock equity over the life cycle in the UK.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9128.

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Date of creation: Aug 2002
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Publication status: published as James Banks & Richard Blundell & James Smith, 2004. "Wealth Portfolios in the United Kingdom and the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 205-246 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9128

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References

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  1. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Brugiavini, Agar, 2001. "Risk Pooling, Precautionary Saving and Consumption Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 757-79, October.
  2. Di Salvo, Pamela & Ermisch, John, 1997. "Analysis of the Dynamics of Housing Tenure Choice in Britain," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17, July.
  3. Chiuri, Maria Concetta & Jappelli, Tullio, 2001. "Financial Market Imperfections and Home Ownership: A Comparative Study," CEPR Discussion Papers 2717, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. James Banks & Richard Blundell & James P. Smith, 2000. "Wealth inequality in the United States and Great Britain," IFS Working Papers W00/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Steve Bond & Lucy Chennells & Michael Devereux, 1995. "Company dividends and taxes in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 1-18, August.
  6. F. Thomas Juster & Joseph Lupton & James P. Smith & Frank Stafford, 2004. "Savings and Wealth; Then and Now," Labor and Demography 0403027, EconWPA.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Andrew Benito, 2007. "Housing equity as a buffer: evidence from UK households," Bank of England working papers 324, Bank of England.
  2. Grant Scobie & Trinh Le & John Gibson, 2007. "Housing in the Household Portfolio and Implications for Retirement Saving: Some Initial Finding from SOFIE," Treasury Working Paper Series 07/04, New Zealand Treasury.
  3. Ortalo-Magné, François & Rady, Sven, 2005. "Housing Market Dynamics: On the Contribution of Income Shocks and Credit Constraint," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 50, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  4. Sousa, Ricardo M., 2010. "Housing wealth, financial wealth, money demand and policy rule: Evidence from the euro area," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 88-105, March.
  5. Gene Amromin, 2005. "Precautionary savings motives and tax efficiency of household portfolios: an empirical analysis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. P.-O. Beffy & B. Monfort, 2003. "Household wealth, portfolio selection and consumption behavior," Documents de Travail de la DESE - Working Papers of the DESE g2003-08, Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques, DESE.
  7. Iwaisako, Tokuo, 2009. "Household portfolios in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 373-382, December.
  8. Gene Amromin, 2008. "Precautionary Savings Motives and Tax Efficiency of Household Portfolios: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 22, pages 5-41 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Markus Haavio & Heikki Kauppi, 2006. "House price fluctuations and residential sorting," 2006 Meeting Papers 774, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Cho, Sang-Wook (Stanley), 2012. "Accounting For Life-Cycle Wealth Accumulation: The Role Of Housing Institution," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(04), pages 493-517, September.
  11. Haavio, Markus & Kauppi , Heikki, 2011. "Owner-occupied housing as an investment, regional house price cycles and residential sorting," Research Discussion Papers 24/2011, Bank of Finland.
  12. Sang-Wook Stanley Cho, 2007. "Household Wealth Accumulation and Portfolio Choices in Korea," Discussion Papers 2007-26, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.

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