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Household Stock Market Beliefs and Learning

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  • Gábor Kézdi
  • Robert J. Willis

Abstract

This paper characterizes heterogeneity of the beliefs of American households about future stock market returns, provides an explanation for that heterogeneity and establishes its relationship to stock holding behavior. We find substantial belief heterogeneity that is puzzling since households can observe the same publicly available information about the stock market. We propose a simple learning model where agents can invest in the acquisition of financial knowledge. Differential incentives to learn about the returns process can explain heterogeneity in beliefs. We check this explanation by using data on beliefs elicited as subjective probabilities and a rich set of other variables from the Health and Retirement Study. Both descriptive statistics and estimated relevant heterogeneity of the structural parameters provide support for our explanation. People with higher lifetime earnings, higher education, higher cognitive abilities, defined contribution as opposed to defined benefit pension plans, for example, possess beliefs that are considerably closer to what historical time series would imply. Our results also suggest that a substantial part of the reduced form relationship between stock holding and household characteristics is due to differences in beliefs. Our methodological contribution is estimating relevant heterogeneity of structural belief parameters from noisy survey answers to probability questions.

Suggested Citation

  • Gábor Kézdi & Robert J. Willis, 2011. "Household Stock Market Beliefs and Learning," NBER Working Papers 17614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17614
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    Cited by:

    1. Barth, Daniel, 2014. "The costs and beliefs impliedby direct stock ownership," Working Paper Series 1657, European Central Bank.
    2. Binswanger, Johannes & Salm, Martin, 2013. "Does Everyone Use Probabilities? Intuitive and Rational Decisions about Stockholding," IZA Discussion Papers 7265, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Camelia M. Kuhnen & Brian T. Melzer, 2017. "Non-Cognitive Abilities and Financial Delinquency: The Role of Self-Efficacy in Avoiding Financial Distress," NBER Working Papers 23028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Kuhnen, Camelia M. & Miu, Andrei C., 2017. "Socioeconomic status and learning from financial information," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 349-372.
    5. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2012. "Stock Price Expectations and Stock Trading," Working Papers WR-938, RAND Corporation.
    6. Das, Sreyoshi & Kuhnen, Camelia & Nagel, Stefan, 2017. "Socioeconomic Status and Macroeconomic Expectations," CEPR Discussion Papers 12464, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Entorf, Horst & Hou, Jia, 2018. "Financial education for the disadvantaged? A review," SAFE Working Paper Series 205, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    8. Entorf, Horst & Hou, Jia, 2018. "Financial Education for the Disadvantaged? A Review," IZA Discussion Papers 11515, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Robin L. Lumsdaine & Rogier J.D. Potter van Loon, 2013. "Wall Street vs. Main Street: An Evaluation of Probabilities," NBER Working Papers 19103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Adeline Delavande & Jinkook Lee & Seetha Menon, 2017. "Eliciting Survival Expectations of the Elderly in Low-Income Countries: Evidence From India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 673-699, April.
    11. repec:eee:econom:v:200:y:2017:i:2:p:378-389 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:73-85 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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