Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics

No 03-2010: Participation Constraints in the Stock Market Evidence from Unexpected Inheritance due to Sudden Death

Steffen Andersen () and Kasper Meisner Nielsen
Additional contact information
Steffen Andersen: Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Economics, Copenhagen Business School, Porcelænshaven 16A, 1.fl. , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
Kasper Meisner Nielsen: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Abstract: We use a natural experiment to investigate the impact of participation constraints on individuals' decisions to invest in the stock market. Unexpected inheritance due to sudden deaths results in exogenous variation in financial wealth and allows us to examine whether fixed entry and ongoing participation costs cause non-participation. We have three key findings. First, windfall wealth has a positive effect on participation. Second, the majority of households do not react to sizeable windfalls by entering the stock market, but hold on to substantial safe assets—even over longer horizons. Third, the majority of households inheriting stock holdings actively sell the entire portfolio. Overall, these findings suggest that participation by many individuals is unlikely to be constrained by financial participation costs.

Keywords: Stock Market Participation; Household Finance; Portfolio Choice; Sudden Death; Inheritance.

JEL-codes: D80; E20; G10

43 pages, March 1, 2010

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