Household Portfolio Choices, Health Status and Health Care Systems: A Cross Country Analysis Based on SHARE

Publication Name: 
Journal of Banking and Finance
Publication Authors: 
Atella Vincenzo, Brunetti Marianna, Maestas Nicole
HCP Authors:Nicole Maestas PhD
Date of Publication: 
May 2012


Health risk is increasingly viewed as an important form of background risk that affects household portfolio decisions. However, its role might be mediated by the presence of a protective full-coverage national health service that could reduce households' probability of incurring current and future out-of-pocket medical expenditures. We use SHARE data to study the influence of current health status and future health risk on the decision to hold risky assets, across ten European countries with different health systems, each offering a different degree of protection against out-of-pocket medical expenditures. We find robust empirical evidence that perceived health status matters more than objective health status and, consistent with the theory of background risk, health risk affects portfolio choices only in countries with less protective health care systems. Furthermore, portfolio decisions consistent with background risk models are observed only with respect to middle-aged and highly-educated investors.

PMCID: PMC3718569


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