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What Drives Equity Market Non-participation?


This paper produces endogenous equity market non-participation in an economy with uninsurable labor income risk and heterogeneous skill levels. Prudence and impatience generate stationary household wealth levels that depend on income. Skill, and therefore labor income, heterogeneity leads to wealth heterogeneity, with high skill households accumulating high wealth and low skill households accumulating low wealth. A HARA class utility with subsistence consumption requirement generates decreasing RRA with respect to household wealth. Consequently, low skill households also have significantly higher local RRA. In addition low skill households have less human capital and therefore have lower diversification demand for stocks. Low wealth, high RRA and low diversification demand predicts that low skill households do not hold stocks in the face of a moderate ownership cost. In addition, the model predicts a humped lifecycle wealth accumulation pattern and a humped lifecycle stock allocation pattern. I also find that stockholders exhibit a greater aggregate willingness to supply risky capital during the expansion phase of a business cycle, despite the lower conditional equity premium.

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