DP7162 | Marriage and Other Risky Assets: A Portfolio Approach

Publication Date

09/02/2009

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Abstract

We study the joint impact of gender and marital status on financial investment by testing the hypothesis that marriage represents - in a portfolio framework - a sort of safe asset, and that this effect is stronger for women. We show that married individuals have a higher propensity to invest in risky assets than single ones, that the marital status gap is stronger for women than for men and that, for women only, the marital status gap evolves over time. Next we explore a number of possible explanations of the observed gender differences by controlling for background and individual factors that capture the evolution of family and society. We find that both the higher female marital status gap, and its time variability, vanish for those women who are employed. Our empirical investigation is based on a dataset drawn from the 1989-2006 Bank of Italy Survey of Household Income and Wealth.