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Precautionary portfolio behavior from a life-cycle perspective

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Abstract

The literature on asset accumulation by households draws a sharp distinction between \"short-run\" precautionary motives to buffer annual consumption from annual labor income shocks, and \"long-run\" life cycle considerations under labor income certainty. However, empirical estimates of the persistence of shocks to annual incomes imply that households are subject to considerable career uncertainty. We study long-run precautionary motives for life-cycle wealth accumulation and portfolio choice. We compute optimal portfolios under three sources of uncertainty (stock returns, incomes, and lifespan), and explore the separate contributions of several key factors for mean and median asset holdings, including education, risk aversion, household heterogeneity, utility from bequests, time preference, and variance and serial correlation of income shocks. Numerical solutions for households in three education groups are compared with data from the most recent and comprehensive source, the 1992 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 1996. "Precautionary portfolio behavior from a life-cycle perspective," International Finance Discussion Papers 542, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:542
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer behavior; Saving and investment;

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy

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