NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Wealth Fluctuations Generate Time-varying Risk Aversion? Micro-Evidence on Individuals' Asset Allocation

Markus K. Brunnermeier, Stefan Nagel

NBER Working Paper No. 12809
Issued in December 2006
NBER Program(s):   AP   EFG

We use data from the PSID to investigate how households' portfolio allocations change in response to wealth fluctuations. Persistent habits, consumption commitments, and subsistence levels can generate time-varying risk aversion with the consequence that when the level of liquid wealth changes, the proportion a household invests in risky assets should also change in the same direction. In contrast, our analysis shows that the share of liquid assets that households invest in risky assets is not affected by wealth changes. Instead, one of the major drivers of households' portfolio allocation seems to be inertia: households rebalance only very slowly following inflows and outflows or capital gains and losses.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12809

Published: Brunnermeier, Markus K. and Stefan Nagel. "Do Wealth Fluctuations Generate Time-Varying Risk Aversion? Micro-evidence on Individuals." American Economic Review 98, 3 (2008): 713-736.

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