IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The diversity of household assets holdings in the United States in 2007 and 2009: Measurement and determinants


  • Sierminska, Eva M.
  • Silber, Jacques


We apply diversity indices, such as the Gini-Simpson index and entropy related indices, to the study of the distribution of individual asset holdings in the United States in 2007 and 2009. We examine the impact of the 2008 recession on asset diversity and the way individual socio-economic characteristics as well as important life events affect this measure. The focus of our analysis is on financial assets. We use a unique panel data set that provides us with comprehensive household level data for 2007 and 2009 in the United States-- the Survey of Consumer Finances. We find that asset diversity increases between 2007 and 2009. In addition, it increases with age, education and income and it is lower at the bottom of the wealth distribution. Life changing situations such as getting divorced or losing one’s job have a statistically significant negative effect on a change in diversity, while getting married or having deteriorating health have a positive effect. Active money management also affects asset diversity positively.

Suggested Citation

  • Sierminska, Eva M. & Silber, Jacques, 2019. "The diversity of household assets holdings in the United States in 2007 and 2009: Measurement and determinants," GLO Discussion Paper Series 386, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:386

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barasinska, Nataliya & Schäfer, Dorothea & Stephan, Andreas, 2012. "Individual Risk Attitudes and the Composition of Financial Portfolios: Evidence from German Household Portfolios," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1-14.
    2. Briggs, Joseph & Cesarini, David & Lindqvist, Erik & Östling, Robert, 2021. "Windfall gains and stock market participation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(1), pages 57-83.
    3. Cardak, Buly A. & Wilkins, Roger, 2009. "The determinants of household risky asset holdings: Australian evidence on background risk and other factors," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 850-860, May.
    4. Gorecki, Paul K, 1974. "The Measurement of Enterprise Diversification," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(3), pages 399-401, August.
    5. Victor DeMiguel & Lorenzo Garlappi & Raman Uppal, 2009. "Optimal Versus Naive Diversification: How Inefficient is the 1-N Portfolio Strategy?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(5), pages 1915-1953, May.
    6. van Rooij, Maarten & Lusardi, Annamaria & Alessie, Rob, 2011. "Financial literacy and stock market participation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 449-472, August.
    7. Cristian Badarinza & John Y. Campbell & Tarun Ramadorai, 2016. "International Comparative Household Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 111-144, October.
    8. Merlin M. Hackbart & Donald A. Anderson, 1975. "On Measuring Economic Diversification," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 374-378.
    9. Hilary Hoynes & Douglas L. Miller & Jessamyn Schaller, 2012. "Who Suffers during Recessions?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 27-48, Summer.
    10. Berry, Charles H, 1971. "Corporate Growth and Diversification," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 371-384, October.
    11. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
    12. Utton, M A, 1977. "Large Firm Diversification in British Manufacturing Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 87(345), pages 96-113, March.
    13. Barry Bosworth, 2012. "Economic Consequences of the Great Recession: Evidence from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2012-4, Center for Retirement Research, revised Feb 2012.
    14. Arthur Kennickell & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Disentangling the Importance of the Precautionary Saving Mode," NBER Working Papers 10888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Claire Célérier & Boris Vallée, 2017. "Catering to Investors Through Security Design: Headline Rate and Complexity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(3), pages 1469-1508.
    16. Gideon Rosenbluth, 1955. "Measures of Concentration," NBER Chapters, in: Business Concentration and Price Policy, pages 57-99, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Gomes, Francisco J & Haliassos, Michael & Ramadorai, Tarun, 2020. "Household Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 14502, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Lu, Xiaomeng & Guo, Jiaojiao & Gan, Li, 2020. "International comparison of household asset allocation: Micro-evidence from cross-country comparisons," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C).
    3. Oehler, Andreas & Wanger, Hans Philipp, 2020. "Household portfolio optimization with XTFs? An empirical study using the SHS-base," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 51(C).
    4. Zuzana Brokesova & Andrej Cupak & Gueorgui Kolev, 2017. "Financial literacy and voluntary savings for retirement in Slovakia," Working and Discussion Papers WP 10/2017, Research Department, National Bank of Slovakia.
    5. Christian Ehm & Christine Laudenbach & Martin Weber, 2018. "Focusing on volatility information instead of portfolio weights as an aid to investor decisions," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(2), pages 457-480, June.
    6. Rui Pedro Brito & Hélder Sebastião & Pedro Godinho, 2016. "Efficient skewness/semivariance portfolios," Journal of Asset Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 17(5), pages 331-346, September.
    7. Boudt, Kris & Raza, Muhammad Wajid & Wauters, Marjan, 2019. "Evaluating the Shariah-compliance of equity portfolios: The weighting method matters," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 406-417.
    8. Jetter, Michael & Magnusson, Leandro M. & Roth, Sebastian, 2020. "Becoming sensitive: Males’ risk and time preferences after the 2008 financial crisis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    9. Mark R. Powell, 2015. "Risk‐Based Sampling: I Don't Want to Weight in Vain," Risk Analysis, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 35(12), pages 2172-2182, December.
    10. Víctor Adame-García & Fernando Fernández-Rodríguez & Simón Sosvilla-Rivero, 2017. "“Resolution of optimization problems and construction of efficient portfolios: An application to the Euro Stoxx 50 index"," IREA Working Papers 201702, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Feb 2017.
    11. Maya KATENOVA & Sang HOON LEE, 2020. "A comparative study of financial literacy, retirement planning and delinquency in payment: the Kazakhstan case Abstract: Financial knowledge is assumed to help people in making good choices in their f," Eastern Journal of European Studies, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 11, pages 273-292, June.
    12. Guo, Danqiao & Boyle, Phelim & Weng, Chengguo & Wirjanto, Tony, 2019. "Age matters," MPRA Paper 93653, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 May 2019.
    13. Mohammad Tariqul Islam Khan & Siow-Hooi Tan, 2019. "Stated Preferences for Firm’s Characteristics and Asset Allocation Decisions," Global Business Review, International Management Institute, vol. 20(4), pages 839-855, August.
    14. repec:vul:omefvu:v:9:y:2017:i:2:id:234 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Alzuabi, Raslan & Brown, Sarah & Gray, Daniel & Harris, Mark N. & Spencer, Christopher, 2019. "Household Saving, Health, and Healthcare Utilisation in Japan," CEI Working Paper Series 2018-17, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    16. Nicholas Apergis & Tasawar Hayat & Tareq Saeed, 2019. "The Role of Happiness in Financial Decisions: Evidence from Financial Portfolio Choice and Five European Countries," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 47(3), pages 343-360, September.
    17. Ziyuan Lyu & Li Wei, 2021. "Information sources and participation in the Chinese insurance market: knowledge as a mediator," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 46(1), pages 79-106, January.
    18. Kourtis, Apostolos, 2014. "On the distribution and estimation of trading costs," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 104-117.
    19. Cornil, Yann & Hardisty, David J. & Bart, Yakov, 2019. "Easy, breezy, risky: Lay investors fail to diversify because correlated assets feel more fluent and less risky," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 103-117.
    20. Francisco Camões & Sofia Vale, 2018. "Housing Valuation, Wealth Perception, and Homeowners’ Portfolio Composition," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 494-508, September.
    21. Andrej Cupak & Pirmin Fessler & Joanne W. Hsu & Piotr R. Paradowski, 2020. "Confidence, financial literacy and investment in risky assets: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Working and Discussion Papers WP 4/2020, Research Department, National Bank of Slovakia.

    More about this item


    diversity; financial assets; Great Recession; United States; wealth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:386. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.