## D91 Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving

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- Asset pricing under rational learning about rare disasters : [Version 28 Juli 2011] (2011)
- This paper proposes a new approach for modeling investor fear after rare disasters. The key element is to take into account that investorsâ€™ information about fundamentals driving rare downward jumps in the dividend process is not perfect. Bayesian learning implies that beliefs about the likelihood of rare disasters drop to a much more pessimistic level once a disaster has occurred. Such a shift in beliefs can trigger massive declines in price-dividend ratios. Pessimistic beliefs persist for some time. Thus, belief dynamics are a source of apparent excess volatility relative to a rational expectations benchmark. Due to the low frequency of disasters, even an infinitely-lived investor will remain uncertain about the exact probability. Our analysis is conducted in continuous time and offers closed-form solutions for asset prices. We distinguish between rational and adaptive Bayesian learning. Rational learners account for the possibility of future changes in beliefs in determining their demand for risky assets, while adaptive learners take beliefs as given. Thus, risky assets tend to be lower-valued and price-dividend ratios vary less under adaptive versus rational learning for identical priors. Keywords: beliefs, Bayesian learning, controlled diffusions and jump processes, learning about jumps, adaptive learning, rational learning. JEL classification: D83, G11, C11, D91, E21, D81, C61

- Consumption habits and humps : [Version 23 June 2013] (2013)
- We show that the optimal consumption of an individual over the life cycle can have the hump shape (inverted U-shape) observed empirically if the preferences of the individual exhibit internal habit formation. In the absence of habit formation, an impatient individual would prefer a decreasing consumption path over life. However, because of habit formation, a high initial consumption would lead to high required consumption in the future. To cover the future required consumption, wealth is set aside, but the necessary amount decreases with age which allows consumption to increase in the early part of life. At some age, the impatience outweighs the habit concerns so that consumption starts to decrease. We derive the optimal consumption strategy in closed form, deduce sufficient conditions for the presence of a consumption hump, and characterize the age at which the hump occurs. Numerical examples illustrate our findings. We show that our model calibrates well to U.S. consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

- Stochastic differential utility as the continuous-time limit of recursive utility (2013)
- We establish a convergence theorem that shows that discrete-time recursive utility, as developed by Kreps and Porteus (1978), converges to stochastic differential utility, as introduced by Dufffie and Epstein (1992), in the continuous-time limit of vanishing grid size.

- Life insurance demand under health shock risk : [Version: 7 February 2014] (2014)
- This paper studies the life cycle consumption-investment-insurance problem of a family. The wage earner faces the risk of a health shock that significantly increases his probability of dying. The family can buy term life insurance with realistic features. In particular, the available contracts are long term so that decisions are sticky and can only be revised at significant costs. Furthermore, a revision is only possible as long as the insured person is healthy. A second important and realistic feature of our model is that the labor income of the wage earner is unspanned. We document that the combination of unspanned labor income and the stickiness of insurance decisions reduces the insurance demand significantly. This is because an income shock induces the need to reduce the insurance coverage, since premia become less affordable. Since such a reduction is costly and families anticipate these potential costs, they buy less protection at all ages. In particular, young families stay away from life insurance markets altogether.

- Consumption-investment problems with stochastic mortality risk : [version 3 march 2014] (2014)
- I numerically solve realistically calibrated life cycle consumption-investment problems in continuous time featuring stochastic mortality risk driven by jumps, unspanned labor income as well as short-sale and liquidity constraints and a simple insurance. I compare models with deterministic and stochastic hazard rate of death to a model without mortality risk. Mortality risk has only minor effects on the optimal controls early in the life cycle but it becomes crucial in later years. A diffusive component in the hazard rate of death has no significant impact, whereas a jump component is desired by the agent and influences optimal controls and wealth evolution. The insurance is used to ensure optimal bequest such that there is no accidental bequest. In the absence of the insurance, the biggest part of bequest is accidental.

- Critical illness insurance in life cycle portfolio problems [version 3 march 2014] (2014)
- I analyze a critical illness insurance in a consumption-investment model over the life cycle. I solve a model with stochastic mortality risk and health shock risk numerically. These shocks are interpreted as critical illness and can negatively affect the expected remaining lifetime, the health expenses, and the income. In order to hedge the health expense effect of a shock, the agent has the possibility to contract a critical illness insurance. My results highlight that the critical illness insurance is strongly desired by the agents. With an insurance profit of 20%, nearly all agents contract the insurance in the working stage of the life cycle and more than 50% of the agents contract the insurance during retirement. With an insurance profit of 200%, still nearly all working agents contract the insurance, whereas there is little demand in the retirement stage.

- Saving rates and portfolio choice with subsistence consumption : [Version January 16, 2010] (2010)
- We analytically show that a common across rich/poor individuals Stone-Geary utility function with subsistence consumption in the context of a simple two-asset portfolio-choice model is capable of qualitatively explaining: (i) the higher saving rates of the rich, (ii) the higher fraction of personal wealth held in stocks by the rich, and (iii) the higher volatility of consumption of the wealthier. On the contrary, time-variant "keeping-up with the Joneses" weighted average consumption playing the role of moving benchmark subsistence consumption gives the same portfolio composition and saving rates across the rich and the poor, failing to reconcile the model with what micro data say.

- Asset pricing and consumption-portfolio choice with recursive utility and unspanned risk : [version 1 june 2014] (2014)
- We study consumption-portfolio and asset pricing frameworks with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. We show that in both cases, portfolio choice and asset pricing, the value function of the investor/representative agent can be characterized by a specific semilinear partial differential equation. To date, the solution to this equation has mostly been approximated by Campbell-Shiller techniques, without addressing general issues of existence and uniqueness. We develop a novel approach that rigorously constructs the solution by a fixed point argument. We prove that under regularity conditions a solution exists and establish a fast and accurate numerical method to solve consumption-portfolio and asset pricing problems with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. Our setting is not restricted to affine asset price dynamics. Numerical examples illustrate our approach.

- Consumption and wage humps in a life-cycle model with education : [version 11 june 2014] (2014)
- he observed hump-shaped life-cycle pattern in individuals' consumption cannot be explained by the classical consumption-savings model. We explicitly solve a model with utility of both consumption and leisure and with educational decisions affecting future wages. We show optimal consumption is hump shaped and determine the peak age. The hump results from consumption and leisure being substitutes and from the implicit price of leisure being decreasing over time; more leisure means less education, which lowers future wages, and the present value of foregone wages decreases with age. Consumption is hump shaped whether the wage is hump shaped or increasing over life.

- Asset pricing and consumption-portfolio choice with recursive utility and unspanned risk : [version 4 august 2014] (2014)
- We study consumption-portfolio and asset pricing frameworks with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. We show that in both cases, portfolio choice and asset pricing, the value function of the investor/ representative agent can be characterized by a specific semilinear partial differential equation. To date, the solution to this equation has mostly been approximated by Campbell-Shiller techniques, without addressing general issues of existence and uniqueness. We develop a novel approach that rigorously constructs the solution by a fixed point argument. We prove that under regularity conditions a solution exists and establish a fast and accurate numerical method to solve consumption-portfolio and asset pricing problems with recursive preferences and unspanned risk. Our setting is not restricted to affine asset price dynamics. Numerical examples illustrate our approach.