Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden)

No 195: Down or Out: Assessing The Welfare Costs of Household Investment Mistakes

Laurent E. Calvet (), John Y. Campbell and Paolo Sodini ()
Additional contact information
Laurent E. Calvet: Department of Finance, HEC School of Management and CREST, Postal: 1 rue de la Libération, 78351 Jouy-en-Josas, France
John Y. Campbell: Department of Economics, Littauer Center, Postal: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Paolo Sodini: Department of Finance, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Box 6501 , SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This paper investigates the efficiency of household investment decisions in a unique dataset containing the disaggregated wealth and income of the entire population of Sweden. The analysis focuses on two main sources of inefficiency in the financial portfolio: underdiversification of risky assets (“down”) and nonparticipation in risky asset markets (“out”). We find that while a few households are very poorly diversified, the cost of diversification mistakes is quite modest for most of the population. For instance, a majority of participating Swedish households are sufficiently diversified internationally to outperform the Sharpe ratio of their domestic stock market. We document that households with greater financial sophistication tend to invest more efficiently but also more aggressively, so the welfare cost of portfolio inefficiency tends to be greater for these households. The welfare cost of nonparticipation is smaller by almost one half when we take account of the fact that nonparticipants would be unlikely to invest efficiently if they participated in risky asset markets.

Keywords: Asset allocation; Diversification; Familiarity; Participation

JEL-codes: D50; D90; E30; O10

69 pages, May 1, 2006

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