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Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans

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Listed:
  • Richard H. Thaler
  • Shlomo Benartzi

Abstract

There is a worldwide trend toward defined contribution saving plans and growing interest in privatized Social Security plans. In both environments, individuals are given some responsibility to make their own asset-allocation decisions, raising concerns about how well they do at this task. This paper investigates one aspect of the task, namely diversification. We show that some investors follow the "1/n strategy": they divide their contributions evenly across the funds offered in the plan. Consistent with this naive notion of diversification, we find that the proportion invested in stocks depends strongly on the proportion of stock funds in the plan.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2001. "Naive Diversification Strategies in Defined Contribution Saving Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 79-98, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:91:y:2001:i:1:p:79-98
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.91.1.79
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Salvador Valdés & Peter Diamond, "undated". "Social Security Reforms in Chile," Documentos de Trabajo 161, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
    2. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
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    4. Loomes, Graham, 1991. "Evidence of a New Violation of the Independence Axiom," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 91-108, January.
    5. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
    6. Blume, Marshall E & Friend, Irwin, 1975. "The Asset Structure of Individual Portfolios and Some Implications for Utility Functions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 30(2), pages 585-603, May.
    7. Mitchell, Olivia S & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1996. "Social Security Privatization: A Structure for Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 363-367, May.
    8. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    9. Michael J. Brennan & Walter N. Torous, 1999. "Individual Decision Making and Investor Welfare," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 28(2), pages 119-143, July.
    10. Peter Diamond, 2004. "Social Security," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 1-24, March.
    11. Douglas D. Bernheim, "undated". "Financial Illiteracy, Education, and Retirement Saving," Pension Research Council Working Papers 96-7, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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