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Why Do Individual Investors Hold Under-Diversified Portfolios?

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  • WILLIAM N. GOETZMANN

    ()
    (Yale School of Management - International Center for Finance)

  • ALOK KUMAR

    ()
    (University of Notre Dame - Department of Finance)

Abstract

This study examines the diversification decisions of more than 60,000 individual investors during a six year period (1991-96) in recent U.S. capital market history. The majority of investors in our sample are under-diversified and the extent of under-diversification is more severe in retirement accounts. Investors' personal characteristics, their stock preferences, and their behavioral biases jointly influence their diversification choices. Younger, lower-income (less wealthy), and relatively less sophisticated investors and those who follow price trends, prefer local (familiar) stocks, and exhibit over-confidence hold relatively less diversified portfolios. Under-diversified investors exhibit strong style and industry preferences and they also prefer more volatile and positively skewed stocks. Furthermore, we find some evidence to support the asymmetric information hypothesis for under diversification. In contrast, we find that factors such as small portfolio size, transaction costs, and search costs are unlikely determinants of investors' diversification choices. The unexpectedly high idiosyncratic risk in investors' portfolios results in a welfare loss.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number ysm454.

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Date of creation: 14 Apr 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm454

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Cited by:
  1. H. Henry Cao & Bing Han & David Hirshleifer & Harold H. Zhang, 2011. "Fear of the Unknown: Familiarity and Economic Decisions," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(1), pages 173-206.
  2. Chavas, Jean-Paul & Barham, Bradford, 2007. "On the Microeconomics of Diversification under Uncertainty and Learning," Staff Paper Series 515, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
  3. Laurent E. Calvet & John Y. Campbell & Paolo Sodini, 2007. "Down or Out: Assessing the Welfare Costs of Household Investment Mistakes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 707-747, October.
  4. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2007. "Mental Accounting in Portfolio Choice: Evidence from a Flypaper Effect," NBER Working Papers 13656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kumar, Alok, 2007. "Do the diversification choices of individual investors influence stock returns?," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 362-390, November.
  6. Ødegaard, Bernt Arne, 2009. "The diversification cost of large, concentrated equity stakes. How big is it? Is it justified?," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2009/22, University of Stavanger.
  7. Anderson, Anders, 2005. "Is Online Trading Gambling with Peanuts?," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 06-02, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  8. Nicholas Barberis & Ming Huang, 2007. "Stocks as Lotteries: The Implications of Probability Weighting for Security Prices," NBER Working Papers 12936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Chang, Charles & Fuh, Cheng-Der & Hsu, Ya-Hui, 2008. "ESO compensation: The roles of default risk, employee sentiment, and insider information," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 630-641, December.
  10. Ajamu Loving & Michael Finke & John Salter, 2012. "Explaining the 2004 Decrease in Minority Stock Ownership," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 403-425, December.
  11. Chae, Joon & Yang, Cheol-Won, 2013. "Commonality in individuals' trading: A systematic path between behavioral bias and expected returns," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 1008-1023.
  12. James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian, 2008. "The Flypaper Effect in Individual Investor Asset Allocation," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2560, Yale School of Management.
  13. Matus Medo & Chi Ho Yeung & Yi-Cheng Zhang, 2008. "How to quantify the influence of correlations on investment diversification," Papers 0805.3397, arXiv.org, revised Feb 2009.

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