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Non-expected Utility, Saving, and Portfolios

  • Michael Haliassos

    (The University of Cyprus)

  • Christis Hassapis

    (The University of Cyprus)

Existing findings suggest that standard, frictionless, expected-utility models have difficulty accounting for average and for median holdings of wealth and of risky assets, partly as a result of the largely unexplained limited proportion of stockholders among households. We analyze life-cycle wealth accumulation and portfolio choice under career uncertainty and quantifiable departures from expected utility maximization. Our specification nests expected utility and three types of non-expected utility: (i) Kreps-Porteus preferences that disentangle risk aversion from elasticity of substitution, (ii) Yaari's Dual Theory of Choice, and (iii) Quiggin's Rank-dependent Utility. Specifications (ii) and (iii) exhibit "first-order" risk aversion and kinked indifference curves. Solution of such models under multiple sources of risk presents conceptual and computational difficulties. We introduce a notion of equilibrium and a computational algorithm appropriate for such setups. Computed wealth and stockholding, based on calibrated income processes for three education categories, are compared to the 1992 Survey of Consumer Finances. Rank-dependent utility enhances the importance of precautionary effects. Contrary to priors in the literature, solutions are not typically at kinks; neither kinks nor actual solutions involve zero stockholding when income risk is recognized; and yet predictions about average wealth and risky assets tend to improve for all education categories. Mere disentangling of risk aversion from elasticity has small effects, while dual theory predictions are farther from the data and the signs of precautionary effects are reversed.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mac/papers/9709/9709003.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9709003.

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Date of creation: 30 Sep 1997
Date of revision: 11 Apr 1998
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9709003
Note: Type of Document - acrobat.pdf; figures: included
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Quiggin, John, 1982. "A theory of anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 323-343, December.
  2. Michael Haliassos & Christis Hassapis, 1999. "Borrowing Constraints, Portfolio Choice and Precautionary Motives: Theoretical Predictions and Empirical Complications," Computing in Economics and Finance 1999 1341, Society for Computational Economics.
  3. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
  4. Poterba, J.M. & Samwick, A.A., 1996. "Stock Ownership Patterns, Stock Market Fluctuations, and Consumption," Working papers 96-2, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Kimball, Miles S, 1993. "Standard Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 589-611, May.
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  7. Finn E. Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1996. "The Computational Experiment: An Econometric Tool," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 69-85, Winter.
  8. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Mankiw, N.G. & Zeldes, S.P., 1990. "The Consumption Of Stockholders And Non-Stockholders," Weiss Center Working Papers 23-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  10. George M. Constantinides & John B. Donaldson & Rajnish Mehra, 2002. "Junior Can'T Borrow: A New Perspective On The Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 269-296, February.
  11. Segal, Uzi & Spivak, Avia, 1990. "First order versus second order risk aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 111-125, June.
  12. Fernando Restoy & Philippe Weil, 1995. "Approximate Equilibrium Asset Prices," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 9515, Banco de Espa�a.
  13. Weil, Philippe, 1990. "Nonexpected Utility in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 29-42, February.
  14. Stephen Zeldes, . "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 20-86, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  15. Campbell, John, 1993. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing Without Consumption Data," Scholarly Articles 3221491, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Sandmo, Agnar, 1970. "The Effect of Uncertainty on Saving Decisions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(3), pages 353-60, July.
  17. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 1996. "Precautionary Portfolio Behavior from a Life-Cycle Perspective," Finance 9604001, EconWPA.
  18. Mervyn A. King & Jonathan I. Leape, 1984. "Wealth and Portfolio Composition: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 1468, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Haliassos, Michael, 1994. "On Perfect Foresight Models of a Stochastic World," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 477-91, May.
  20. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1989. "Intertemporal Substitution, Risk Aversion and the Euler Equation for Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(395), pages 59-73, Supplemen.
  21. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
  22. Orazio Attanasio & James Banks & Sarah Tanner, 1998. "Asset holding and consumption volatility," IFS Working Papers W98/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  23. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  24. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1994. "Income Risk, Borrowing Constraints and Portfolio Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 888, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. L. Epstein & S. Zin, 2010. "First order risk aversion and the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1400, David K. Levine.
  26. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-29, September.
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