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Financial Stress and Asymmetric Financial Decisions


  • Christian E. Weller
  • Amy Helburn


Building wealth requires saving, borrowing, and investing. These decisions may depend on stress due to the lack of financial security (low financial assets). Stress should influence personal responses – emotional, behavioral, and cognitive – that in turn could determine financial decisions. The link between stress and financial decisions could be asymmetric, so that fewer financial assets result in larger absolute financial decisions than more assets. We first divide households between stressed (financially insecure) and not stressed (financially secure) ones, using a threshold regression. Comparatively little assets divide stressed and not stressed households. We then show that low levels of financial assets have a larger adverse effect on personal responses among stressed households than among not stressed ones. Personal responses, though, systematically determine financial decisions, such that more stress and lower personal responses lead to a more short-term focus in financial decisions. These linkages between stress, personal responses, and financial decisions indeed give rise to an asymmetric effect. The absolute effect of a stock price decrease of 30%, for instance, is 28% larger than the effect of a 30% stock price increase. Exogenous asset shocks could result in a reduced focus on long-term wealth building among households, because of the asymmetric effect of financial stress.

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  • Christian E. Weller & Amy Helburn, 2010. "Financial Stress and Asymmetric Financial Decisions," Working Papers wp243, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp243

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Grubb & Jae-Kap Lee & Peter Tergeist, 2007. "Addressing Labour Market Duality in Korea," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 61, OECD Publishing.
    2. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
    3. Horton, Susan, 1999. "Marginalization Revisited: Women's Market Work and Pay, and Economic Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 571-582, March.
    4. Richard B. Freeman, 2009. "Labor Regulations, Unions, and Social Protection in Developing Countries: Market distortions or Efficient Institutions?," NBER Working Papers 14789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Chang, Ha-Joon, 1993. "The Political Economy of Industrial Policy in Korea," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 131-157, June.
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    Financial stress; financial security; financial decisions; savings; borrowing; investing;

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