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Equity Culture and the Distribution of Wealth

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Abstract

Wider participation in stockholding is often presumed to reduce wealth inequality. We measure and decompose changes in US wealth inequality between 1989 and 2001, a period of considerable spread of equity culture. Inequality in equity wealth is found to be important for net wealth inequality, despite equity's limited share. Our findings show that reduced wealth inequality is not a necessary outcome of the spread of equity culture. We estimate contributions of stockholder characteristics to levels and inequality in equity holdings, and we distinguish changes in configuration of the stockholder pool from changes in the influence of given characteristics. Our estimates imply that both the 1989 and the 2001 stockholder pools would have produced higher equity holdings in 1998 than were actually observed for 1998 stockholders. This arises from differences both in optimal holdings and in financial attitudes and practices, suggesting a dilution effect of the boom followed by a cleansing effect of the downturn. Cumulative gains and losses in stockholding are shown to be significantly influenced by length of household investment horizon and portfolio breadth but, controlling for those, use of professional advice is either insignificant or counterproductive.

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  • Yannis Bilias & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2005. "Equity Culture and the Distribution of Wealth," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/20, Center for Financial Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:cfs:cfswop:wp200520
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    1. Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris & Haliassos, Michael, 2011. "Stockholding: Participation, location, and spillovers," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1918-1930, August.
    2. Hackethal, Andreas & Haliassos, Michael & Jappelli, Tullio, 2012. "Financial advisors: A case of babysitters?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 509-524.
    3. Ilias Georgakopoulos, 2019. "Income and Wealth Inequality in Malta," International Journal of Social Science Studies, Redfame publishing, vol. 7(5), pages 58-71, September.
    4. Dimitris Christelis & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2013. "Differences in Portfolios across Countries: Economic Environment versus Household Characteristics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 220-236, March.
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    6. Yannis Bilias & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2010. "Portfolio Inertia and Stock Market Fluctuations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 715-742, June.
    7. Luik, Marc-André & Berlemann, Michael, 2014. "Institutional Reform and Depositors’ Portfolio Choice: Evidence from Censored Quantile Regressions," VfS Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100291, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Christelis, Dimitris & Georgarakos, Dimitris, 2013. "Investing at home and abroad: Different costs, different people?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2069-2086.
    9. Dimitrios Christelis & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2008. "Economic Integration and Mature Portfolios," CSEF Working Papers 194, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 23 Jan 2013.
    10. Michael, Bryane & Hartwell, Christopher A. & Ho, Gary, 2013. "Does Financial Market Development Explain (or at Least Predict) the Demand for Wealth Management and Private Banking Services in Developing Markets?," EconStor Preprints 109960, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    11. Peter Lindner, 2015. "Factor decomposition of the wealth distribution in the euro area," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 291-322, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wealth distribution; inequality; stockholding; equity culture;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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