Do Wealth Fluctuations Generate Time-Varying Risk Aversion? Micro-Evidence on Individuals' Asset Allocation
34 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2005
Date Written: June 2005
Recent asset pricing models depart from the standard time-separable CRRA preferences - by introducing additive habit formation, for example - so that wealth shocks produce transitory variation in agents' relative risk aversion. We investigate whether there is micro-level evidence in support of this proposed (negative) relationship between wealth shocks and relative risk aversion. To this end, we analyze two decades of panel data on household asset allocation from the PSID and CEX surveys. Using a variety of specifications, we find that the share of financial assets that households invest in risky assets is unaffected by shocks to their wealth. We also find that following in- and outflows of financial wealth, and, in particular, capital gains and losses, households rebalance only very little. But even controlling for this inertia, wealth shocks do not have economically significant effects on household asset allocation. Our results suggest that wealth fluctuations do not generate time-varying risk aversion.
Keywords: Household portfolio choice, risk aversion, panel data
JEL Classification: G11, G12, D91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation