Portfolio Allocation, Income Uncertainty and Households’ Flight from Risk

Sarah Brown, Dan Gray, Mark N. Harris and Christopher Spencer

Abstract

Analysing the US Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we present a new empirical method to investigate the extent to which households reduce their financial risk exposure when confronted with background risk. Our novel modelling approach - termed a deflated fractional ordered probit model - quantifies how the overall asset composition in a portfolio adjusts with background risk, and is unique in recovering for, any given risky asset class, the shares that are reallocated to a safer asset category. Background risk exerts a significant impact on household portfolios, resulting in a 'flight from risk', away from riskier to safer assets.