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The Determinants of Household Risky Asset Holdings: Background Risk and Other Factors


  • Buly A. Cardak

    (Department of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University)

  • Roger Wilkins

    () (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)


We study the portfolio allocation decisions of Australian households using the relatively new Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. We focus on household allocations to risky financial assets. Our empirical analysis considers a range of hypothesised determinants of these allocations. We find background risk factors posed by labour income uncertainty and health risk are important. Credit constraints and observed risk preferences play the expected role. A positive age gradient is identified for risky asset holdings and homeownership is associated with greater risky asset holdings. A unifying theme for many of our empirical findings is the important role played by financial awareness and knowledge in determining risky asset holdings. Many non-stockholding households appear to lack the experience and financial literacy that might enable them to benefit from direct investment in stocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Buly A. Cardak & Roger Wilkins, 2008. "The Determinants of Household Risky Asset Holdings: Background Risk and Other Factors," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2008n02, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2008n02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mervyn A. King & Jonathan I. Leape, 1987. "Asset Accumulation, Information, and the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 2392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1996. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints, and Portfolio Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 158-172, March.
    3. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(4), pages 1553-1604, August.
    4. Stefan Hochguertel, 2003. "Precautionary motives and portfolio decisions," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 61-77.
    5. Sule Alan, 2006. "Precautionary wealth accumulation: evidence from Canadian microdata," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1105-1124, November.
    6. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2002. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 1-3, January.
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    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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