Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/209140
Authors: 
Assenza, Tiziana
Cardaci, Alberto
Delli Gatti, Domenico
Year of Publication: 
2019
Series/Report no.: 
IMFS Working Paper Series 135
Abstract: 
By means of a laboratory experiment, we show that, contrary to standard consumer theory, financially equivalent balance sheet profiles may be perceived as non fungible in a controlled frictionless environment with no probabilistic attributes. A large majority of subjects indeed have a bias in the perception of wealth, such that balance sheet composition matters: for a given net worth with values of assets and debt that are financially certain and risk-free, a greater asset-debt ratio implies greater perceived wealth. The predominance of this bias is explained by low cognitive sophistication and great inattention. Moreover, biased subjects are less patient, less debt averse, more likely to increase spending out of unexpected gains and report greater propensities to consume. A standard optimal consumption choice model, enriched with a rational but inattentive agent a la Gabaix (2014, 2019), aligns our key experimental findings.
Subjects: 
perceived wealth
cognitive sophistication
behavioral inattention
laboratory experiment
household debt
consumption
JEL: 
C91
D91
G41
G51
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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