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How Does Simplified Disclosure Affect Individuals' Mutual Fund Choices?

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Listed:
  • John Beshears
  • James J. Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Brigitte C. Madrian

Abstract

We use an experiment to estimate the effect of the SEC's Summary Prospectus, which simplifies mutual fund disclosure. Our subjects chose an equity portfolio and a bond portfolio. Subjects received either statutory prospectuses or Summary Prospectuses. We find no evidence that the Summary Prospectus affects portfolio choices. Our experiment sheds new light on the scope of investor confusion about sales loads. Even with a one-month investment horizon, subjects do not avoid loads. Subjects are either confused about loads, overlook them, or believe their chosen portfolio has an annualized log return that is 24 percentage points higher than the load-minimizing portfolio.

Suggested Citation

  • John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "How Does Simplified Disclosure Affect Individuals' Mutual Fund Choices?," NBER Working Papers 14859, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14859
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edwin J. Elton & Martin J. Gruber & Jeffrey A. Busse, 2004. "Are Investors Rational? Choices among Index Funds," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 261-288, February.
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    3. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1999. "Risk Aversion or Myopia? Choices in Repeated Gambles and Retirement Investments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(3), pages 364-381, March.
    4. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2010. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 1405-1432, April.
    5. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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