How Do Households Allocate Their Assets? Stylized Facts from the Eurosystem Household Finance and Consumption Survey
52 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2016
Date Written: 2014
Using the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), a large micro-level dataset on households' wealth in fifteen euro area countries, this paper explores how households allocate their assets. We derive stylized facts on asset participation as well as levels of asset holdings and investigate the systematic relationships between household characteristics and asset holding patterns. Real assets make up the bulk of total assets. Whereas ownership of the main residence varies strongly between countries, the value of the main residence tends to be the major asset for home-owners and is a significant part of total assets in all countries. While almost all households hold safe financial assets, a low share of households holds risky assets. The ownership rates of all asset categories generally increase with wealth (and income). The significance of inheritances for wealth accumulation is remarkable and underlines its key role in the process of persistent wealth inequality. We tentatively link differences in asset holding patterns across countries to differences in institutions, such as mortgage market institutions and house price-to-rent ratios.
Keywords: household financial decisions, individual portfolio choice, real and financial assets, cross-country comparisons
JEL Classification: D1, D3
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation