We explore the determinants of debt and financial asset accumulation at the household level using survey data for Great Britain, Germany and the United States (US). Given that debt and assets are both components of a household’s financial portfolio, we explore the degree of inter-dependence between households’ assets and liabilities by jointly modelling these two aspects of the portfolio. Indeed, our empirical findings for both countries support a high degree of inter-dependence between debt and asset holding. Furthermore, the nature of this inter-dependence varies across income ranges and age groups with the weakest correlation between financial assets and debt being found for the lowest income groups in Great Britain, suggesting that such groups may be particularly vulnerable to adverse financial shocks. Evidence supporting inter-dependence between assets and debt no longer remains, however, once we focus on debtors which suggests that households in debt may potentially face difficulties following adverse changes in their financial situation
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