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Ambiguity Aversion and Household Portfolio Choice: Empirical Evidence

  • Stephen G. Dimmock
  • Roy Kouwenberg
  • Olivia S. Mitchell
  • Kim Peijnenburg

We test the relation between ambiguity aversion and five household portfolio choice puzzles: non- participation, low allocations to equity, home-bias, own-company stock ownership, and portfolio under- diversification. In a representative U.S. household survey, we measure ambiguity aversion using custom- designed questions based on Ellsberg urns. As theory predicts, ambiguity aversion is negatively associated with stock market participation, the fraction of financial assets in stocks, and foreign stock ownership, but positively related to own-company stock ownership. Conditional on stock ownership, ambiguity aversion is related to portfolio under-diversification, and during the financial crisis, ambiguity-averse respondents were more likely to sell stocks.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18743.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18743
Note: AG LS
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  1. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Aurelien Baillon & Laetitia Placido & Peter P. Wakker, 2011. "The Rich Domain of Uncertainty: Source Functions and Their Experimental Implementation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 695-723, April.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Financial Literacy around the World: An Overview," NBER Working Papers 17107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Fox, Craig R & Tversky, Amos, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603, August.
  4. Peter Bossaerts & Paolo Ghirardato & Serena Guarnaschelli & William R. Zame, 2010. "Ambiguity in Asset Markets: Theory and Experiment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1325-1359, April.
  5. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "Trusting the Stock Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(6), pages 2557-2600, December.
  6. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-87, May.
  7. Tversky, Amos & Wakker, Peter, 1995. "Risk Attitudes and Decision Weights," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(6), pages 1255-80, November.
  8. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1987. "Expected utility with purely subjective non-additive probabilities," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 65-88, February.
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