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Twin Picks: Disentangling the Determinants of Risk-Taking in Household Portfolios

  • Laurent E. Calvet
  • Paolo Sodini

This paper investigates the determinants of financial risk-taking in a panel containing the asset holdings of Swedish twins. We measure the impact of a broad set of demographic, financial, and portfolio characteristics, and use yearly twin pair fixed effects to control for genes and shared background. We report a strong positive relation between risky asset market participation and financial wealth. Among participants, the average financial wealth elasticity of the risky share is significantly positive and estimated at 22%, which suggests that the average individual investor has decreasing relative risk aversion. Furthermore, the financial wealth elasticity of the risky share itself is heterogeneous across investors and varies strongly with characteristics. The elasticity decreases with financial wealth and human capital, and increases with habit, real estate wealth and household size. As a consequence, the elasticity of the aggregate demand for risky assets to exogenous wealth shocks is close to, but does not coincide with, the elasticity of a representative investor with constant relative risk aversion. We confirm the robustness of our results by running time-differenced instrumental variable regressions, and by controlling for zygosity, lifestyle, mental and physical health, the intensity of communication between twins, and measures of social interactions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15859.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as “Twin Picks: Disentangling the Determinants of Risk-Taking in Household Portfolios” (with P. Sodini), forthcoming in Journal of Finance.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15859
Note: AP EFG
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  1. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2006. "Down or Out: Assessing the Welfare Costs of Household Investment Mistakes," NBER Working Papers 12030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
  3. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2009. "Fight Or Flight? Portfolio Rebalancing by Individual Investors-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 301-348, February.
  4. Campbell, John & Calvert, Lauren E. & Sodini, Paolo, 2009. "Fight or Flight? Portfolio Rebalancing by Individual Investors," Scholarly Articles 2617031, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Barnea, Amir & Cronqvist, Henrik & Siegel, Stephan, 2010. "Nature or Nurture: What Determines Investor Behavior?," SIFR Research Report Series 72, Institute for Financial Research.
  6. Joao F. Cocco, 2005. "Consumption and Portfolio Choice over the Life Cycle," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(2), pages 491-533.
  7. David Cesarini & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Örjan Sandewall & Björn Wallace, 2010. "Genetic Variation in Financial Decision-Making," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(5), pages 1725-1754, October.
  8. David Cesarini & Christopher T. Dawes & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace, 2009. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842, May.
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