The empirical evidence on stock market participation and portfolio choice defies the predictions of standard life-cycle theory. In this paper we develop and estimate a model of portfolio choice that can account for the limited stock market participation and substantial portfolio diversification seen in the data. We present three realistic extensions to the basic framework: per period fixed costs, public pension provision, and a small chance of a disastrous event in the stock market. The estimated model is able to explain observed patterns at reasonable wealth levels, while keeping to a fairly simple framework. We demonstrate that it is no longer necessary to assume counterfactual asset holdings, heterogeneity in preferences, or implausible parameter values, in order to match key financial statistics.