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Life Cycle Uncertainty and Portfolio Choice Puzzles

Author

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  • Yongsung Chang

    (University of Rochester / Yonsei Univ.)

  • Jay Hong

    (University of Rochester)

  • Marios Karabarbounis

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

Abstract

The standard theory of household portfolio choice is hard to reconcile with the following facts. (i) Despite a high rate of returns the average household holds a low share of risky assets (equity premium puzzle). (ii) The share of risky assets increases in age. (iii) The share of risky assets is disproportionately larger for richer households. We show that a simple life-cycle model with learning about earnings ability can successfully address all three puzzles. Young workers, on average asset poor, face larger uncertainty in their life-time labor income because they do have perfect knowledge of their ability in the market. They hedge this risk in human capital by investing in relatively safe financial assets. As earnings ability is gradually revealed over time, they take more risk in financial investment. When the labor income risks are calibrated to those observed in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, our model with learning reproduces the investment profile we see in the Survey of Consumer Finances.

Suggested Citation

  • Yongsung Chang & Jay Hong & Marios Karabarbounis, 2013. "Life Cycle Uncertainty and Portfolio Choice Puzzles," 2013 Meeting Papers 595, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:595
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    2. Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul Willen, 2006. "Borrowing Costs and the Demand for Equity over the Life Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 348-362, May.
    3. Luca Benzoni & Pierre Collin-Dufresne & Robert S. Goldstein, 2007. "Portfolio Choice over the Life-Cycle when the Stock and Labor Markets Are Cointegrated," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(5), pages 2123-2167, October.
    4. Hansen, G D, 1993. "The Cyclical and Secular Behaviour of the Labour Input: Comparing Efficiency Units and Hours Worked," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 71-80, Jan.-Marc.
    5. Francisco Gomes & Alexander Michaelides, 2005. "Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 869-904, April.
    6. Bodie, Zvi & Merton, Robert C. & Samuelson, William F., 1992. "Labor supply flexibility and portfolio choice in a life cycle model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 427-449.
    7. Sule Alan, 2006. "Entry Costs and Stock Market Participation over the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 588-611, October.
    8. Paul A. Samuelson, 2011. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection by Dynamic Stochastic Programming," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: THE KELLY CAPITAL GROWTH INVESTMENT CRITERION THEORY and PRACTICE, chapter 31, pages 465-472 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Life Cycle Uncertainty and Portfolio Choice Puzzles
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2013-12-24 05:57:07

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