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To Own or Not to Own? Household Portfolios, Demographics and Institutions in a Cross-National Perspective

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  • Sierminska, Eva

    (LISER (CEPS/INSTEAD))

  • Doorley, Karina

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin)

Abstract

Using harmonized wealth data and a novel decomposition approach, we show that cohort effects exist in the income profiles of asset and debt portfolios for a sample of European countries, the U.S. and Canada. We find that younger households' participation decisions in assets are more responsive to income than older households. Family structure plays a significant role in explaining cross-country differences for both cohorts. Examining institutional differences, we find that in more financially developed and economically open countries, households are less likely to own housing but more likely to be in debt. Typical mortgage characteristics and mathematical literacy are also correlated with debt participation across countries. These findings have important implications for policy setting during times of financial unease for the young, as well as for the future in helping secure adequate income for the elderly. Our results show that there is scope for policies which promote asset participation for young households and debt participation, where there is a need for consumpation smoothing, for older households.

Suggested Citation

  • Sierminska, Eva & Doorley, Karina, 2013. "To Own or Not to Own? Household Portfolios, Demographics and Institutions in a Cross-National Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 7734, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7734
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    7. Sierminska, Eva M. & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 669-690.
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    11. Karina Doorley & Eva Sierminska, 2014. "Cross-National Differences in Wealth Portfolios at the Intensive Margin: Is there a Role for Policy?," Research on Economic Inequality, in: John A. Bishop & Juan Gabriel Rodríguez (ed.), Economic Well-Being and Inequality: Papers from the Fifth ECINEQ Meeting, volume 22, pages 43-85, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    12. Alexis Yamokoski & Lisa Keister, 2006. "The Wealth Of Single Women: Marital Status And Parenthood In The Asset Accumulation Of Young Baby Boomers In The United States," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1-2), pages 167-194.
    13. Dan Andrews & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Åsa Johansson, 2011. "Housing Markets and Structural Policies in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 836, OECD Publishing.
    14. Ingvild Almås & Magne Mogstad, 2012. "Older or Wealthier? The Impact of Age Adjustment on Wealth Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(1), pages 24-54, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. ROSSI Cristina & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2015. "Single again? Saving patterns when widowhood occurs," LISER Working Paper Series 2015-04, LISER.
    2. Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2012. "Second Homes: Households' Life Dream or (Wrong) Investment?," CEIS Research Paper 351, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 04 Aug 2012.
    3. Frank Cowell & Eleni Karagiannaki & Abigail McKnight, 2012. "Accounting for Cross-Country Differences in Wealth Inequality," LWS Working papers 13, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    4. Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2012. "Second Homes: Households' Life Dream or (Wrong) Investment?," CEIS Research Paper 351, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 04 Aug 2012.
    5. Michał Brzeziński & Katarzyna Sałach, 2020. "Why wealth inequality differs between post-socialist countries?," Working Papers 2020-14, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    6. Maike Damme, 2020. "Overcrowded Housing and Relationship Break-up," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 36(1), pages 119-139, March.
    7. Marianna Brunetti & Costanza Torricelli, 2017. "Second homes in Italy: every household’s dream or (un)profitable investments?," Housing Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 168-185, February.
    8. Pedro Salas-Rojo & Juan Gabriel Rodríguez, 2019. "The distribution of wealth in the U.S. and Spain: the role of socio-economic factors," Working Papers 506, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    wealth portfolios; decomposition; institutions; demographics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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