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Health status and portfolio choice: Causality or heterogeneity?

  • Fan, Elliott
  • Zhao, Ruoyun

This paper explores the role of unobserved individual characteristics in the health-assets and health-portfolio correlations. We apply various econometrics models to a unique longitudinal dataset with rich information that allows for the exploitation of four different health indices. Our findings show strong cross-sectional correlations between health and both financial and non-financial assets, but these correlations seem to be mainly driven by heterogeneity as the correlations largely disappear in the fixed-effects model. Adverse health shocks, however, are found to motivate a safer portfolio choice even after individual fixed-effects are controlled for - a result consistent with the prediction made by the background risk theory. Our findings suggest that health shocks shift investment from risky assets toward other financial assets, but keep the total financial assets unchanged.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Banking & Finance.

Volume (Year): 33 (2009)
Issue (Month): 6 (June)
Pages: 1079-1088

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:33:y:2009:i:6:p:1079-1088
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbf

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  1. David Cutler & Angus Deaton & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2006. "The Determinants of Mortality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 97-120, Summer.
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  17. Baptista, Alexandre M., 2008. "Optimal delegated portfolio management with background risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 977-985, June.
  18. Adams, Peter & Hurd, Michael D. & McFadden, Daniel & Merrill, Angela & Ribeiro, Tiago, 2003. "Healthy, wealthy, and wise? Tests for direct causal paths between health and socioeconomic status," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 112(1), pages 3-56, January.
  19. Normandin, Michel & St-Amour, Pascal, 2008. "An empirical analysis of aggregate household portfolios," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1583-1597, August.
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