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Investor behavior and the purchase of company stock in 401(k) plans - the importance of plan design

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  • Nellie Liang
  • Scott Weisbenner
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    Abstract

    Using panel data for nearly 1,000 companies during 1991 to 2000, this paper finds that employees allocated nearly 20 percent of their total 401(k) contributions to purchases of company stock, and then relates this share to plan design features and firm financial characteristics. We find that the number of investment alternatives offered, n, and whether the company requires some of the match to be in company stock are key factors of the share of total contributions in company stock. We cannot reject the hypothesis that participants invest 1/n of their contributions in company stock. In addition, participants do not offset an employer match in company stock with a smaller share of their own contributions to company stock, contrary to efficient diversification. Workers also appear to view other plan restrictions as providing cues about the desirability of purchasing company stock. Thus, plan design is very important in determining the share of 401(k) assets in company stock.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2002-36.

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    Date of creation: 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2002-36

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    Keywords: 401(k) plans ; Stocks;

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    1. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jeffrey R. Brown & Zoran Ivkovich & Paul A. Smith & Scott Weisbenner, 2004. "The Geography of Stock Market Participation: The Influence of Communities and Local Firms," NBER Working Papers 10235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nittai K. Bergman & Dirk Jenter, 2005. "Employee Sentiment and Stock Option Compensation," NBER Working Papers 11409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Gonand, Frédéric, 2004. "Fonds de pension américains : une évaluation du risque macroéconomique," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/11016, Paris Dauphine University.
    4. Elton, Edwin J. & Gruber, Martin J. & Blake, Christopher R., 2007. "Participant reaction and the performance of funds offered by 401(k) plans," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 249-271, April.
    5. Elton, Edwin J. & Gruber, Martin J. & Blake, Christopher R., 2006. "The adequacy of investment choices offered by 401(k) plans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1299-1314, August.
    6. Carolina Fugazza & Massimo Guidolin & Giovanna Nicodano, 2010. "1/N and long run optimal portfolios: results for mixed asset menus," Working Papers 2010-003, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    7. Tang, Ning & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Mottola, Gary R. & Utkus, Stephen P., 2010. "The efficiency of sponsor and participant portfolio choices in 401(k) plans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1073-1085, December.
    8. Nicolas Aubert & Thomas Rapp, 2008. "Les salariés actionnaires:pourquoi investissent-ils dans leur entreprise?," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie, revues.org, vol. 11(4), pages 87-110, December.
    9. Gene Amromin, 2005. "Precautionary savings motives and tax efficiency of household portfolios: an empirical analysis," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    10. Gary V. Engelhardt & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2004. "Employee Stock Purchase Plans," NBER Working Papers 10421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. James M. Poterba, 2003. "Employer Stock and 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 398-404, May.

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