Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

CeDEx 2012-02: Self-Control, Financial Literacy and the Co-holding Puzzle


We use UK household survey data incorporating measures of financial literacy and behavioural characteristics to analyse the puzzling co-existence of high cost revolving consumer credit alongside low yield liquid savings in household balance sheets, which we term the ‘co holding puzzle’. Approximately 20% of households in our sample co-hold, on average, £6,500 of revolving consumer credit alongside £8,000 of liquid savings. Co-holders are typically more financially literate, with above average income and education. However, we show co-holding is also associated with impulsive spending behaviour on the part of the household. Our results lend empirical support to theoretical models in which sophisticated households co-hold as a means of managing a self-control problem.

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John Gathergood and Joerg Weber


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Posted on Wednesday 1st February 2012

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