Differences in Portfolios Across Countries: Economic Environment Versus Household Characteristics

54 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2010

See all articles by Dimitris Christelis

Dimitris Christelis

Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow; Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples Federico II; Center for Financial Studies (CFS); Netspar

Dimitris Georgarakos

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Research; Center for Financial Studies (CFS)

Michael Haliassos

Goethe University Frankfurt - House of Finance; Goethe University Frankfurt - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration; CEPR; NETSPAR; Goethe University Frankfurt - Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS)

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Date Written: September 3, 2010

Abstract

We document and study international differences in both ownership and holdings of stocks, private businesses, homes, and mortgages among households aged fifty or more in thirteen countries, using new and comparable survey data. We employ counterfactual techniques to decompose observed differences across the Atlantic, within the US, and within Europe into those arising from differences in population characteristics and differences in economic environments. We then correlate the latter differences to country-level indicators. Ownership across the range of the assets considered tends to be more widespread among US households. We document that shortly prior to the current crisis, US households tended to invest larger amounts in stocks and smaller ones in homes, and to have larger mortgages in older age, even controlling for characteristics. This is consistent with the high prevalence of negative equity associated with the current crisis. More generally, we find that differences in household characteristics often play a small role, while differences in economic environments tend to explain most of the observed differences in ownership rates and in amounts held. The latter differences are much more pronounced among European countries than among US regions, suggesting further potential for harmonization of policies and institutions.

Keywords: Household finance, aging, stockholding, private business, housing, mortgages, counterfactual decompositions

JEL Classification: G11, E21

Suggested Citation

Christelis, Dimitrios and Georgarakos, Dimitris and Haliassos, Michael, Differences in Portfolios Across Countries: Economic Environment Versus Household Characteristics (September 3, 2010). MEA Discussion Paper No. 204-10, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676150 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1676150

Dimitrios Christelis

Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow ( email )

Room 207F, Gilbert Scott Building
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HOME PAGE: http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/business/staff/dimitrioschristelis/

Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples Federico II ( email )

Via Cintia, Monte S. Angelo
Naples, NA 80126
Italy

Center for Financial Studies (CFS) ( email )

Gr├╝neburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

Netspar ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Dimitris Georgarakos

European Central Bank (ECB) - Directorate General Research ( email )

Sonnemannstrasse 20
Frankfurt am Main, 60314
Germany

Center for Financial Studies (CFS) ( email )

Gr├╝neburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

Michael Haliassos (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt - House of Finance

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
PF H32
Frankfurt am Main, 60323
Germany

Goethe University Frankfurt - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3
PF H32
Frankfurt am Main, D-60323
Germany

CEPR

London
United Kingdom

NETSPAR ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Goethe University Frankfurt - Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS) ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 1
Frankfurt, 60323
Germany

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