DP4853 | Optimal Life-Cycle Asset Allocation: Understanding the Empirical Evidence

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We show that a life cycle model with realistically calibrated uninsurable labour income risk and moderate risk aversion can simultaneously match stock market participation rates and asset allocation decisions conditional on participation. The key ingredients of the model are Epstein-Zin preferences, a fixed stock market entry cost, and moderate heterogeneity in risk aversion. Households with low risk aversion smooth earnings shocks with a small buffer stock of assets, and consequently most of them (optimally) never invest in equities. Therefore, the marginal stockholders are (endogenously) more risk averse, and as a result they do not invest their portfolios fully in stocks.