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Asset Accumulation, Information, and the Life Cycle

  • Mervyn A. King
  • Jonathan I. Leape
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    Empirical tests of the life cycle model have focused on its implications for the level of a household's total net worth and paid little attention to changes in portfolio composition over the life cycle. In this paper, we examine a new survey of the asset holdings of 6,010 U.S households and show that there is a pronounced life-cycle pattern to both the number and value of assets held by U.S. households. Direct survey evidence suggests that incomplete information is a significant determinant of household portfolio composition. We test the hypothesis that information about investment opportunities arrives stochastically over time, estimating a Poisson model for the arrival of new information.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2392.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2392.

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    Date of creation: Sep 1987
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2392
    Note: ME
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    1. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1987. "Dissaving after Retirement: Testing the Pure Life Cycle Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 237-280 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alan S. Blinder & Roger H. Gordon & Donald E. Wise, 1981. "Social Security, Bequests, and the Life Cycle Theory of Saving: Cross-Sectional Tests," NBER Working Papers 0619, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Glosten, Lawrence R. & Milgrom, Paul R., 1985. "Bid, ask and transaction prices in a specialist market with heterogeneously informed traders," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 71-100, March.
    4. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven, 1983. "Financial Aspects of the United States Pension System," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi83-1, June.
    5. Shorrocks, A F, 1975. "The Age-Wealth Relationship: A Cross-Section and Cohort Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(2), pages 155-63, May.
    6. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
    7. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
    8. J. Bradford De Long & Andrei Shleifer & Lawrence H. Summers & Robert J. Waldmann, 1987. "The Economic Consequences of Noise Traders," NBER Working Papers 2395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Summers, Lawrence H, 1981. "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 706-32, August.
    10. Blume, Marshall E & Friend, Irwin, 1975. "The Asset Structure of Individual Portfolios and Some Implications for Utility Functions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 30(2), pages 585-603, May.
    11. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-38, July.
    12. Atkinson, A B, 1971. "The Distribution of Wealth and the Individual Life-cycle," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 239-54, July.
    13. Uhler, R S & Cragg, John G, 1971. "The Structure of the Asset Portfolios of Households," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(115), pages 341-57, July.
    14. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
    15. Mirer, Thad W, 1979. "The Wealth-Age Relation among the Aged," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 435-43, June.
    16. Robert J. Shiller, 1984. "Stock Prices and Social Dynamics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 719R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    17. White, Betsy Buttrill, 1978. "Empirical Tests of the Life Cycle Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 547-60, September.
    18. Feldstein, Martin S, 1976. "Personal Taxation and Portfolio Composition: An Econometric Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(4), pages 631-50, July.
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