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Financial Risk Aversion and Household Asset Diversification

  • Nataliya Barasinska
  • Dorothea Schäfer
  • Andreas Stephan

This paper explores the relationship between risk attitude and asset diversification in household portfolios. We first examine the impact of manifested risk aversion on the total number of distinct assets held in a portfolio (naive diversification). The second part of the paper focuses on a more sophisticated strategy of diversification and asks whether financial theory is compatible with observed diversification patterns. Based on the German Socioeconomic Panel which provides unique measures of individual propensity for taking risk, the results of the regression analysis show that, along with some socioeconomic characteristics, the propensity for taking investment risk is an important predictor of a household's diversification strategy. However, some of our findings are strongly at odds with what the concept of mean-variance utility suggests.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.87574.de/diw_sp0117.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 117.

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Length: 28 p.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp117
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  1. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  2. Morin, Roger A & Fernandez Suarez, Antonio, 1983. " Risk Aversion Revisited," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1201-16, September.
  3. Dohmen, Thomas & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David B. & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2005. "Individual Risk Attitudes: New Evidence from a Large, Representative, Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 1730, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Carol Bertaut & Martha Starr-McCluer, 2000. "Household portfolios in the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-26, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  6. William N. Goetzmann & Lingfeng Li & K. Geert Rouwenhorst, 2001. "Long-Term Global Market Correlations," NBER Working Papers 8612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kapteyn, A. & Teppa, F., 2002. "Subjective Measures of Risk Aversion and Portfolio Choice," Discussion Paper 2002-11, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  8. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
  9. Campbell, John Y & Chan, Yeung Lewis & Viceira, Luis M, 2001. "A Multivariate Model of Strategic Asset Allocation," CEPR Discussion Papers 3070, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  11. Gomes, Francisco J & Michaelides, Alexander, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 4853, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Fellner, Gerlinde & Maciejovsky, Boris, 2007. "Risk attitude and market behavior: Evidence from experimental asset markets," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 338-350, June.
  13. Alessie, R.J.M. & Hochgürtel, S. & van Soest, A.H.O., 2000. "Household Portfolios in the Netherlands," Discussion Paper 2000-55, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  15. King, Mervyn A. & Leape, Jonathan I., 1998. "Wealth and portfolio composition: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 155-193, June.
  16. Christopher D Carroll, 1997. "Why Do the Rich Save So Much?," Economics Working Paper Archive 388, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  17. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. James Banks & Tanner, S, 2000. "Household portfolios in the UK," IFS Working Papers W00/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  19. Arie Kapteyn & Federica Teppa, 2002. "Subjective Measures of Risk Aversion and Portfolio Choice," Working Papers 02-03, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  20. Hartog, Joop & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Jonker, Nicole, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
  21. Blume, Marshall E & Friend, Irwin, 1975. "The Asset Structure of Individual Portfolios and Some Implications for Utility Functions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 30(2), pages 585-603, May.
  22. Hochguertel, Stefan & Alessie, Rob & van Soest, Arthur, 1997. " Saving Accounts versus Stocks and Bonds in Household Portfolio Allocation," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 81-97, March.
  23. Friend, Irwin & Blume, Marshall E, 1975. "The Demand for Risky Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(5), pages 900-922, December.
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