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Demographics and Industry Returns

Author

Listed:
  • Stefano DellaVigna
  • Joshua M. Pollet

Abstract

How do investors respond to predictable shifts in profitability? We consider how demographic shifts affect profits and returns across industries. Cohort size fluctuations produce forecastable demand changes for age-sensitive sectors, such as toys, bicycles, beer, life insurance, and nursing homes. These demand changes are predictable once a specific cohort is born. We use lagged consumption and demographic data to forecast future consumption demand growth induced by changes in age structure. We find that demand forecasts predict profitability by industry. Moreover, forecast demand changes five to ten years in the future predict annual industry stock returns. One additional percentage point of annualized demand growth due to demographics predicts a 5 to 10 percentage point increase in annual abnormal industry stock returns. However, forecasted demand changes over shorter horizons do not predict stock returns. A trading strategy exploiting demographic information earns an annualized risk-adjusted return of approximately 6 percent. We present a model of inattention to information about the distant future that is consistent with the findings. We also discuss alternative explanations, including omitted risk-based factors. (JEL E21, G12, G32, J11, L11, L25)

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano DellaVigna & Joshua M. Pollet, 2007. "Demographics and Industry Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1667-1702, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:5:p:1667-1702
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.5.1667
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • G12 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Asset Pricing; Trading Volume; Bond Interest Rates
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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