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Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle

  • Benartzi, Shlomo
  • Thaler, Richard H

The equity premium puzzle refers to the empirical fact that stocks have outperformed bonds over the last century by a surprisingly large margin. The authors offer a new explanation based on two behavioral concepts. First, investors are assumed to be 'loss averse,' meaning that they are distinctly more sensitive to losses than to gains. Second, even long-term investors are assumed to evaluate their portfolios frequently. The authors dub this combination 'myopic loss aversion.' Using simulations, they find that the size of the equity premium is consistent with the previously estimated parameters of prospect theory if investors evaluate their portfolios annually. Copyright 1995, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 110 (1995)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 73-92

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:1:p:73-92
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  1. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1988. "The equity risk premium: A solution?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 133-136, July.
  2. N. Gregory Mankiw & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1990. "The Consumption of Stockholders and Non-Stockholders," NBER Working Papers 3402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  4. Constantinides, George M, 1990. "Habit Formation: A Resolution of the Equity Premium Puzzle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 519-43, June.
  5. Phillippe Weil, 1997. "The Equity Premium Puzzle and the Risk-Free Rate Puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1833, David K. Levine.
  6. Rajnish Mehra, 2006. "The Equity Premium in India," NBER Working Papers 12434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  8. Ferson, Wayne E. & Constantinides, George M., 1991. "Habit persistence and durability in aggregate consumption: Empirical tests," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 199-240, October.
  9. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  10. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  11. Rietz, Thomas A., 1988. "The equity risk premium a solution," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 117-131, July.
  12. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
  13. L. Epstein & S. Zin, 2010. "First order risk aversion and the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1400, David K. Levine.
  14. Hovenkamp, Herbert, 1991. "Legal Policy and the Endowment Effect," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 225-47, June.
  15. Samuelson, Paul A, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection by Dynamic Stochastic Programming," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 239-46, August.
  16. Pratt, John W & Zeckhauser, Richard J, 1987. "Proper Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 143-54, January.
  17. Keim, Donald B., 1983. "Size-related anomalies and stock return seasonality : Further empirical evidence," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 13-32, June.
  18. Merton, Robert C, 1969. "Lifetime Portfolio Selection under Uncertainty: The Continuous-Time Case," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(3), pages 247-57, August.
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