Seminars

Luigi Guiso - EIEF

March 25, 2013
5:30 pmto7:00 pm

Asset Market Participation and Portfolio Choice over the Life-Cycle

Abstract:
We study the life cycle portfolio allocation using a random sample of 75,000 households drawn from the Norwegian Tax Registry followed over 15 years which contains exhaustive and error-free information on all components of households’ investments. We find that both participation in the stock market and the portfolio share in stocks have important life cycle patterns. Participation is limited at all ages but follows a hump-shaped profile which peaks around retirement; as households retire and begin decumulating wealth, they start exiting the stock market. The share invested in stocks among the participants is high and flat for the young but investors start reducing it as retirement comes into sight. Our data suggest a double adjustment as people age: a rebalancing of the portfolio away from stocks as they approach retirement, and stock market exit after retirement. Existing calibrated life cycle models can account for the first behavior but not the second. We show that extending standard computational models to incorporate reasonable per period participation costs can generate a joint pattern of participation and the risky asset share over the life cycle similar to the one observed in the data. In addition, if we add a small perceived probability of being cheated when investing in stocks, the model predicts a share in stocks much closer to the one observed in the data.