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Investor Behavior and the Purchase of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans - The Importance of Plan Design

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  • Nellie Liang
  • Scott Weisbenner

Abstract

Using panel data for nearly 1,000 companies during 1991 to 2000, this paper documents that the average share of participant's discretionary 401(k) contributions in company stock was almost 20 percent, and then relates this share to plan design features and firm financial characteristics. We find that the number of investment alternatives offered, n, and whether the company requires some of the match to be in company stock are key factors of the share of total contributions in company stock. We cannot reject the hypothesis that participants invest 1/n of their contributions in company stock. In addition, participants do not offset an employer match in company stock with a smaller share of their own contributions to company stock, contrary to efficient diversification. Workers also appear to view other plan restrictions as providing cues about the desirability of purchasing company stock. Thus, plan design is very important in determining the share of 401(k) assets in company stock.

Suggested Citation

  • Nellie Liang & Scott Weisbenner, 2002. "Investor Behavior and the Purchase of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans - The Importance of Plan Design," NBER Working Papers 9131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9131
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Liang, Nellie & Weisbenner, Scott, 2006. "401(k) matching contributions in company stock: Costs and benefits for firms and workers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1315-1346, August.
    2. Jeffrey R. Brown & Zoran Ivkovic & Paul A. Smith & Scott Weisbenner, 2004. "The geography of stock market participation: the influence of communities and local firms," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Engelhardt, Gary V. & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2004. "Employee Stock Purchase Plans," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 57(2), pages 385-406, June.
    4. Gene Amromin, 2008. "Precautionary Savings Motives and Tax Efficiency of Household Portfolios: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 22, pages 5-41 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Carolina Fugazza & Massimo Guidolin & Giovanna Nicodano, 2010. "1/N and Long Run Optimal Portfolios: Results for Mixed Asset Menus," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 190, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    6. Scott Weisbenner & Zoran Ivkovich, 2003. "Local Does as Local Is: Information Content of the Geography of Individual Investors' Common Stock Investments," NBER Working Papers 9685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Pinheiro, Marcelo, 2008. "Loyalty, peer group effects, and 401(k)," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 94-122, February.
    8. Rauh, Joshua D., 2006. "Own company stock in defined contribution pension plans: A takeover defense?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 379-410, August.
    9. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2005. "Are Empowerment and Education Enough? Underdiversification in 401(k) Plans," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 36(2), pages 151-214.
    10. Issouf Soumaré, 2013. "Incentives and Voluntary Investment in Employer Shares," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 42(1), pages 1-17, February.
    11. repec:wsi:ijtafx:v:10:y:2007:i:07:n:s0219024907004597 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Hsuan-Chi Chen & Christine W. Lai & Sheng-Ching Wu, 2016. "Plan-Level and Firm-Level Attributes and Employees' Contributions to 401(k) Plans," International Journal of Business and Economics, College of Business and College of Finance, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan, vol. 15(1), pages 17-33, June.
    13. James M. Poterba, 2003. "Employer Stock and 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 398-404, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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