Early life conditions and financial risk–taking in older age
Loretti I. Dobrescu
- Using life-history survey data from eleven European countries, we investigate whether childhood conditions, such as socioeconomic status, cognitive abilities and health problems influence portfolio choice and risk attitudes later in life. After controlling for the corresponding conditions in adulthood, we find that superior cognitive skills in childhood (especially mathematical abilities) are positively associated with stock and mutual fund ownership. Childhood socioeconomic status, as indicated by the number of rooms and by having at least some books in the house during childhood, is also positively associated with the ownership of stocks, mutual funds and individual retirement accounts, as well as with the willingness to take financial risks. On the other hand, less risky assets like bonds are not affected by early childhood conditions. We find only weak effects of childhood health problems on portfolio choice in adulthood. Finally, favorable childhood conditions affect the transition in and out of risky asset ownership, both by making divesting less likely and by facilitating investing (i.e., transitioning from non-ownership to ownership).
Twin picks : disentangling the determinants of risk-taking in household portfolios
Laurent E. Calvet
- This paper investigates risk-taking in the liquid portfolios held by a large panel of Swedish twins. We document that the portfolio share invested in risky assets is an increasing and concave function of financial wealth, leading to different risk sensitivities across investors. Human capital, which we estimate directly from individual labor income, also drives risk-taking positively, while internal habit and expenditure commitments tend to reduce it. Our micro findings lend strong support to decreasing relative risk aversion and habit formation preferences. Furthermore, heterogeneous risk sensitivities across investors help reconcile individual preferences with representative-agent models.