To own or not to own? Household portfolios, demographics and institutions in a cross-national perspective.


  • Eva Sierminska LISER, IZA and DIW Berlin


Using harmonized wealth data and a decomposition approach novel to this literature, we identify differences in determinants and in the income profiles of asset and debt portfolios in European and North American countries for two age groups. Younger households’ participation decisions in assets are more responsive to income. Family structure plays a significant role in explaining cross-country differences for both cohorts. Debt participation of older households and asset participation of younger households may be particularly responsive to institutions. This could have important implications for policy setting, suggesting a scope for the promotion of asset holdings among younger households and debt holdings to facilitate consumption smoothing among older households.