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Wealth Portfolios in the UK and the US

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  • James Banks
  • Richard Blundell
  • James P. Smith

Abstract

In this paper, we attempt to explain differences between the US and UK household wealth distributions, with an emphasis on the quite different porfolios held in stock and housing equities in the two countries. As a proportion of their total wealth, British households hold relatively small amounts of financial assets - including equities in stock - compared to American households. In contrast, British households appear to move into home ownership at relatively young ages and a large fraction of their household wealth is concentrated in houseing. Finally, the age gradient in home equity appears to be much steeper in the UK while US households exhibit a steeper age gradient in stock equity. We argue that the higher price housing price volatility in the UK combined with much younger entry into home ownership there are important factors accounting for the relatively small participation of young British householders in the stock market. We show it is important to acknowledge the dual role of housing - providing both wealth and consumption services - in understanding wealth accumulation differences between the US and the UK. Institutional differences, particularly in housing markets, that affect the demand and supply of housing services, turn out to be important in generating portfolio differences between the two countries. In particular, these differences in housing price risk imply steeper life-cycle accumulations in housing and less steep accumulation in stock equity over the life cycle in the UK.

Suggested Citation

  • James Banks & Richard Blundell & James P. Smith, 2002. "Wealth Portfolios in the UK and the US," NBER Working Papers 9128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9128
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chiuri, Maria Concetta & Jappelli, Tullio, 2003. "Financial market imperfections and home ownership: A comparative study," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 857-875, October.
    2. F. Thomas Juster & Joseph Lupton & James P. Smith & Frank Stafford, 2004. "Savings and Wealth; Then and Now," Labor and Demography 0403027, EconWPA.
    3. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Agar Brugiavini, 2001. "Risk Pooling, Precautionary Saving and Consumption Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(4), pages 757-779.
    4. Steve Bond & Lucy Chennells & Michael Devereux, 1995. "Company dividends and taxes in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 1-18, August.
    5. James Banks & Richard Blundell & James Smith, 2000. "Wealth inequality in the United States and Great Britain," IFS Working Papers W00/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Di Salvo, Pamela & Ermisch, John, 1997. "Analysis of the Dynamics of Housing Tenure Choice in Britain," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo M. Sousa, 2009. "Wealth Effetcs on Consumption: Evidence from the euro area," NIPE Working Papers 12/2009, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    2. Cho, Sang-Wook (Stanley), 2010. "Household wealth accumulation and portfolio choices in Korea," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 13-25, March.
    3. François Ortalo-Magné & Sven Rady, 2006. "Housing Market Dynamics: On the Contribution of Income Shocks and Credit Constraints ," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(2), pages 459-485.
    4. Haavio, Markus & Kauppi, Heikki, 2009. "House price fluctuations and residential sorting," Research Discussion Papers 14/2009, Bank of Finland.
    5. Gene Amromin, 2008. "Precautionary Savings Motives and Tax Efficiency of Household Portfolios: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 22, pages 5-41 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Cho, Sang-Wook (Stanley), 2012. "Accounting For Life-Cycle Wealth Accumulation: The Role Of Housing Institution," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(04), pages 493-517, September.
    7. Grant Scobie & Trinh Le & John Gibson, 2007. "Housing in the Household Portfolio and Implications for Retirement Saving: Some Initial Finding from SOFIE," Treasury Working Paper Series 07/04, New Zealand Treasury.
    8. Iwaisako, Tokuo, 2009. "Household portfolios in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 373-382, December.
    9. Poh Kam Wong & Yuen Ping Ho, 2006. "Characteristics and determinants of informal investment in Singapore," Venture Capital, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(1), pages 43-70, June.
    10. Markus Haavio & Heikki Kauppi, 2006. "House price fluctuations and residential sorting," 2006 Meeting Papers 774, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Ricardo M. Sousa, 2010. "How do Consumption and Asset Returns React to Wealth Shocks? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K," NIPE Working Papers 14/2010, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    12. Sousa, Ricardo M., 2010. "Housing wealth, financial wealth, money demand and policy rule: Evidence from the euro area," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 88-105, March.
    13. Andrew Benito, 2007. "Housing equity as a buffer: evidence from UK households," Bank of England working papers 324, Bank of England.

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