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Life with habit and expectation: A new explanation of equity premium puzzle

James Cover and Boyi Zhuang

Economic Notes, 2021, vol. 50, issue 1

Abstract: Previous writers have attempted to resolve the equity premium puzzle by employing a utility function that depends on current consumption minus (or relative to) past habit consumption. This paper points out that an individual's current utility may also depend upon how well off in the recent past he or she had expected to be today. Hence we add the concept “expectation formation” to the utility modification term in a model with a habit‐formation utility function. We apply the model to the equity premium puzzle and find that it is able to fit the data with a relatively low coefficient of relative risk aversion. Furthermore, we introduce an updated data sample and apply different values of discounting factors, and find that in all circumstances, the model is able to generate coefficients of risk aversion that are consistent with theory. Hence we conclude that the model is able to resolve the equity premium puzzle.

Date: 2021
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