International Review of Financial Analysis, Vol. 32, pp. 109-122, 2014

Health Status and Portfolio Choice: Is Their Relationship Economically Relevant?

Recent empirical work on individual portfolio choice focuses on the role of the individual's health in making financial decisions. The key idea is that, through precautionary saving or reducing investors' time horizon, health issues make people choose safer financial portfolios. This paper questions the empirical relevance of the link between health and portfolio choice, measured as stockownership and overall fraction of risky securities held. We handle with caution the findings from previous papers and ask whether data from the first wave of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) are able to clarify some of our doubts. We find that only poor self-reported health negatively impacts the portfolio choice, while other health measures (chronic conditions, limitations in daily activities of life, mental health) are irrelevant for investment decisions.