Subjective Life Horizon and Portfolio Choice

Preprint OPEN
Spaenjers , Christophe ; Spira, Sven Michael (2013)
  • Subject: portfolio choice; investment horizon; subjective expectations; life expectancy; bequests
    • jel: jel:D14 | jel:G11 | jel:D12 | jel:D80 | jel:D91
    mesheuropmc: education | humanities | health care economics and organizations

Using data from a U.S. household survey, we examine the empirical relation between subjective life horizon (i.e., the self-reported expectation of remaining life span) and portfolio choice. We find that equity portfolio shares are higher for investors with longer horizons, ceteris paribus, in line with theoretical predictions. This result is robust to controlling for optimism and health status, accounting for the endogeneity of equity market participation, or instrumenting subjective life horizon with parental survival. Finally, we show that bequest motives can offset the effects of a shortening horizon on portfolio allocation.
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