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Portfolio risk and self-directed retirement saving programmes


  • James M. Poterba


Defined contribution retirement plans expose retirement savers to financial market risks. This paper explores the costs of retirement wealth risk. It begins by describing the holding of company stock in 401(k) plans in the US, an investment choice that yields a poorly diversified retirement portfolio. It then summarises the composition of household wealth at retirement and investigates how the degree of diversification in retirement assets affects expected utility. The cost of holding a poorly diversified retirement portfolio is very sensitive to whether or not the retirement saver has other assets that provide a floor for retirement consumption. Copyright 2004 Royal Economic Society.

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  • James M. Poterba, 2004. "Portfolio risk and self-directed retirement saving programmes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(494), pages 26-51, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:114:y:2004:i:494:p:c26-c51

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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Liang, Nellie & Weisbenner, Scott, 2006. "401(k) matching contributions in company stock: Costs and benefits for firms and workers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1315-1346, August.
    2. Rauh, Joshua D., 2006. "Own company stock in defined contribution pension plans: A takeover defense?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 379-410, August.
    3. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2005. "Risiken im Lebenszyklus: Theorie und Evidenz," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 05-05, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    4. Binswanger, Johannes, 2007. "Risk management of pensions from the perspective of loss aversion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 641-667, April.
    5. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2005. "Risiken im Lebenszyklus : Theorie und Evidenz," Papers 05-05, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    6. Hsuan-Chi Chen & Christine W. Lai & Sheng-Ching Wu, 2016. "Plan-Level and Firm-Level Attributes and Employees' Contributions to 401(k) Plans," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 15(1), pages 17-33, June.

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