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Do Wealth Fluctuations Generate Time-varying Risk Aversion? Micro-Evidence on Individuals' Asset Allocation

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  • Markus K. Brunnermeier
  • Stefan Nagel

Abstract

We use data from the PSID to investigate how households' portfolio allocations change in response to wealth fluctuations. Persistent habits, consumption commitments, and subsistence levels can generate time-varying risk aversion with the consequence that when the level of liquid wealth changes, the proportion a household invests in risky assets should also change in the same direction. In contrast, our analysis shows that the share of liquid assets that households invest in risky assets is not affected by wealth changes. Instead, one of the major drivers of households' portfolio allocation seems to be inertia: households rebalance only very slowly following inflows and outflows or capital gains and losses.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus K. Brunnermeier & Stefan Nagel, 2006. "Do Wealth Fluctuations Generate Time-varying Risk Aversion? Micro-Evidence on Individuals' Asset Allocation," NBER Working Papers 12809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12809 Note: AP EFG
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    Cited by:

    1. Claudio Campanale & Carolina Fugazza & Francisco Gomes, 2012. "Life-Cycle Portfolio Choice with Liquid and Illiquid Financial Assets," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 269, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    2. Alessandro Bucciol & Raffaele Miniaci, 2011. "Household Portfolios and Risk Bearing over Age and Time," Working Papers 15/2011, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    3. Guiso, Luigi & Sodini, Paolo, 2013. "Household Finance: An Emerging Field," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, Elsevier.
    4. Christopher J. Gust & David López-Salido, 2009. "Portfolio inertia and the equity premium," International Finance Discussion Papers 984, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Barnea, Amir & Cronqvist, Henrik & Siegel, Stephan, 2010. "Nature or nurture: What determines investor behavior?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 583-604, December.
    6. Cai, Zongwu & Liu, Xuan & Yang, Fang, 2012. "Reexamining the Empirical Relevance of Habit Formation Preferences," MPRA Paper 37817, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Yannis Bilias & Dimitris Georgarakos & Michael Haliassos, 2010. "Portfolio Inertia and Stock Market Fluctuations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 715-742, June.
    8. Malcolm Baker & Stefan Nagel & Jeffrey Wurgler, 2007. "The Effect of Dividends on Consumption," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 231-292.
    9. Claudia R. Sahm, 2007. "Stability of risk preference," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-66, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Chordia, Tarun & Roll, Richard & Subrahmanyam, Avanidhar, 2011. "Recent trends in trading activity and market quality," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 243-263, August.
    11. Chien, YiLi & Naknoi, Kanda, 2015. "The risk premium and long-run global imbalances," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 299-315.
    12. Sun, Qian & Tong, Wilson H.S., 2010. "Risk and the January effect," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 965-974, May.
    13. Jessica A. Wachter & Motohiro Yogo, 2010. "Why Do Household Portfolio Shares Rise in Wealth?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(11), pages 3929-3965, November.
    14. Ricardo M. Sousa, 2007. "Wealth Shocks and Risk Aversion," NIPE Working Papers 28/2007, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    15. Gust, Christopher & López-Salido, David, 2014. "Monetary policy and the cyclicality of risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 59-75.
    16. Gust, Christopher & López-Salido, J David, 2009. "Monetary Policy, Velocity, and the Equity Premium," CEPR Discussion Papers 7388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Robert J. Barro & José F. Ursúa, 2012. "Rare Macroeconomic Disasters," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 83-109, July.
    18. Jin, Fangyi, 2011. "Revisiting the composition puzzles of the household portfolio: New evidence," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 63-73, May.
    19. Pierre‐André Chiappori & Monica Paiella, 2011. "Relative Risk Aversion Is Constant: Evidence From Panel Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(6), pages 1021-1052, December.
    20. Hui Guo & Zijun Wang & Jian Yang, 2006. "Does aggregate relative risk aversion change countercyclically over time? evidence from the stock market," Working Papers 2006-047, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    21. Anthony W. Lynch & Oliver Randall, 2011. "Why Surplus Consumption in the Habit Model May be Less Persistent than You Think," NBER Working Papers 16950, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

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