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Marriage and Other Risky Assets: A Portfolio Approach

  • Bertocchi, Graziella


    (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)

  • Brunetti, Marianna


    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

  • Torricelli, Costanza


    (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia)

We study the joint impact of gender and marital status on financial decisions. First, we test the hypothesis that marriage represents - in a portfolio framework - a sort of safe asset, and that this effect is stronger for women. Controlling for a number of observable characteristics, we show that single women have a lower propensity to invest in risky assets than married females and males. Second, we show that the differential behavior of single women evolves over time, reflecting the increasing incidence of divorce and the expansion of female labor market participation. In particular, towards the end of our sample period, we observe a reduction in the gap between women with different family status, which can be attributed to the gradual erosion of the perception of marriage as a sort of safe asset. Our results therefore suggest that the differential behavior of single vs. married women can be explained by the evolution of gender roles in society, even after controlling for differential risk attitudes. Our empirical investigation is based on a dataset drawn from the 1989-2006 Bank of Italy Survey of Household Income and Wealth.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3975.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3975
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  10. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2011. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants, and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20048, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  16. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap And The Decline In Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961, August.
  17. Zvika Neeman & Andrew F. Newman & Claudia Olivetti, 2008. "Are Career Women Good for Marriage?," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-167, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  18. Lupton, J. & Smith, J.P., 1999. "Marriage, Assets, and Savings," Papers 99-12, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  19. Julie Zissimopoulos & Benjamin Karney & Amy Rauer, 2008. "Marital Histories and Economic Well-Being," Working Papers wp180, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  20. Cubeddu, Luis & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2003. "Families as Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 3924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  21. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, And Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292, February.
  22. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  23. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
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  27. Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2010. "Population age structure and household portfolio choices in Italy," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(6), pages 481-502.
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