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Financial Knowledge and 401(k) Investment Performance

  • Robert L. Clark
  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Olivia S. Mitchell

Using a unique new dataset linking administrative data on investment performance and financial knowledge, we examine whether investors who are more financially knowledgeable earn more on their retirement plan investments, compared to their less sophisticated counterparts. We find that risk-adjusted annual expected returns are 130 basis points higher for the most financially knowledgeable employees, and those scoring higher on our Financial Knowledge Index have slightly more volatile portfolios while they do no better diversifying their portfolios than their peers. Overall, financial knowledge does appear to help people invest more profitably; this may provide a rationale for efforts to enhance financial knowledge in the population at large.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20137.

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Date of creation: May 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20137
Note: AG
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  1. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Garrett, Daniel M. & Maki, Dean M., 2001. "Education and saving:: The long-term effects of high school financial curriculum mandates," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(3), pages 435-465, June.
  2. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Financial Literacy Around the World: An Overview," CeRP Working Papers 106, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  3. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2009. "How Ordinary Consumers Make Complex Economic Decisions: Financial Literacy and Retirement Readiness," NBER Working Papers 15350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
  5. M.C.J. van Rooij & A. Lusardi & R. Alessie, 2007. "Financial Literacy and Stock Market Participation," Working Papers 07-23, Utrecht School of Economics.
  6. Annamaria Lusardi, 2011. "Americans' Financial Capability," NBER Working Papers 17103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert L. Clark & Jennifer A. Maki & Melinda Sandler Morrill, 2014. "Can Simple Informational Nudges Increase Employee Participation in a 401(k) Plan?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 677-701, January.
  8. Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2011. "Investment in Financial Literacy and Saving Decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 8220, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Christelis, Dimitris & Jappelli, Tullio & Padula, Mario, 2010. "Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 18-38, January.
  10. Haliassos, Michael & Bertaut, Carol C, 1995. "Why Do So Few Hold Stocks?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(432), pages 1110-29, September.
  11. Hugh Hoikwang Kim & Raimond Maurer & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2013. "Time is Money: Life Cycle Rational Inertia and Delegation of Investment Management," NBER Working Papers 19732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Riccardo Calcagno & Chiara Monticone, 2011. "Financial Literacy and the Demand for Financial Advice," CeRP Working Papers 117, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  13. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Planning in the United States," NBER Working Papers 17108, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Tang, Ning & Mitchell, Olivia S. & Mottola, Gary R. & Utkus, Stephen P., 2010. "The efficiency of sponsor and participant portfolio choices in 401(k) plans," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(11-12), pages 1073-1085, December.
  15. Mark Grinblatt & Matti Keloharju & Juhani Linnainmaa, 2011. "IQ and Stock Market Participation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(6), pages 2121-2164, December.
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