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Horizon Length and Portfolio Risk

  • Gollier, Christian
  • Zeckhauser, Richard J

In this paper, we compare the attitude towards current risk of two expected-utility-maximizing investors who are identical except that the first investor will live longer than the second one. It is often suggested that the young investor should take more risks than the old investor. We consider as a benchmark the case of complete markets with a zero risk-free rate. We show that a necessary and sufficient condition to assure that younger is riskier is that the Arrow-Pratt index of absolute tolerance (T) be convex. If we allow for a positive risk-free rate, the necessary and sufficient condition is T convex, plus T(0) = 0. It extends the well-known result that rational investors can behave myopically if and only if the utility function exhibits constant relative risk aversion. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Risk and Uncertainty.

Volume (Year): 24 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 195-212

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Handle: RePEc:kap:jrisku:v:24:y:2002:i:3:p:195-212
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  1. Zvi Bodie & Robert C. Merton & William F. Samuelson, 1992. "Labor Supply Flexibility and Portfolio Choice in a Life-Cycle Model," NBER Working Papers 3954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kimball, Miles S, 1993. "Standard Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 589-611, May.
  3. He Hua & Huang Chi-fu, 1994. "Consumption-Portfolio Policies: An Inverse Optimal Problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 257-293, April.
  4. Gollier, C. & Lindsey, J. & Zeckhauser, R., 1996. "Investment Flexibility and the Acceptance of Risk," Papers 96.421, Toulouse - GREMAQ.
  5. Kessler, Denis & Wolff, Edward N, 1991. "A Comparative Analysis of Household Wealth Patterns in France and the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(3), pages 249-66, September.
  6. Cox, John C. & Leland, Hayne E., 2000. "On dynamic investment strategies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 24(11-12), pages 1859-1880, October.
  7. Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1987. "Proper Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 143-54, January.
  8. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1994. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints and Portfolio Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. 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.
  11. Dybvig, Philip H & Lippman, Steven A, 1983. "An Alternative Characterization of Decreasing Absolute Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 223-24, January.
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