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Does the Internet Increase Trading? Evidence from Investor Behavior in 401(K) Plans

  • James J. Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Andrew Metrick

We analyze the impact of a Web-based trading channel on the trading activity in two corporate 401(k) plans. Using detailed data on about 100,000 participants, we compare trading growth in these firms to growth for a sample of firms without a Web channel. After 18 months of access, the inferred Web effect is very large: trading frequency doubles, and portfolio turnover rises by over 50 percent. We also document several patterns of Web-trading behavior. Young, male, and wealthy participants are more likely to try the Web channel. Frequent traders (before Web introduction) are less likely to try the Web. Participants who try the Web tend to stick with it. Web trades tend to be smaller than phone trades both in dollars and as a fraction of portfolio. Short-term' trades make up a higher proportion of phone trades than of Web trades.

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Paper provided by Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research in its series Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers with number 15-00.

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Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:15-00
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  1. Judith A. Chevalier & Glenn D. Ellison, 1995. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," NBER Working Papers 5234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Mark Grinblatt & Matti Keloharju, 2000. "What Makes Investors Trade?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm146, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Nov 2001.
  3. John M.R. Chalmers & Roger M. Edelen & Gregory B. Kadlec, 1999. "The Wildcard Option in Transacting Mutual-Fund Shares," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 00-03, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Massimo Massa & William Goetzmann & K. Rouwenhorst, 2000. "Behavioral Factors in Mutual Fund Flows," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm8, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Jan 2001.
  5. Bergstresser, Daniel & Poterba, James, 2002. "Do after-tax returns affect mutual fund inflows?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 381-414, March.
  6. William Goetzmann & Zoran Ivkovich & K. Rouwenhorst, 2000. "Day Trading International Mutual Funds: Evidence And Policy Solutions," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm138, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Jun 2001.
  7. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
  8. Edelen, Roger M., 1999. "Investor flows and the assessed performance of open-end mutual funds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 439-466, September.
  9. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2000. "Trading Is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(2), pages 773-806, 04.
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