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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 documents that the average share of participant's discretionary 401(k) contributions in company stock was almost 20 percent, 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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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9131.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9131.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2002
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9131

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    1. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "For Better or for Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 81-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:
    1. 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.).
    2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Zoran Ivkovic & Paul A. Smith & Scott Weisbenner, 2004. "The geography of stock market participation: the influence of communities and local firms," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. James M. Poterba, 2003. "Employer Stock and 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 398-404, May.
    4. Jeffrey R. Brown & Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2004. "401(k) matching contributions in company stock: costs and benefits for firms and workers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Gary V. Engelhardt & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2004. "Employee Stock Purchase Plans," NBER Working Papers 10421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Scott Weisbenner & Zoran Ivkovich, 2003. "Local Does as Local Is: Information Content of the Geography of Individual Investors' Common Stock Investments," NBER Working Papers 9685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Rauh, Joshua D., 2006. "Own company stock in defined contribution pension plans: A takeover defense?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 379-410, August.
    9. Pinheiro, Marcelo, 2008. "Loyalty, peer group effects, and 401(k)," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 94-122, February.

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