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Understanding Peer Effects in Financial Decisions: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Listed author(s):
  • Noam Yuchtman

    (UC Berkeley)

  • Florian Ederer

    (UCLA)

  • Bruno Ferman

    (The George Washington University)

  • Leonardo Bursztyn

    (UCLA)

Using a high-stakes field experiment conducted with a financial brokerage, we implement a novel design to separately identify two channels of social influence in financial decisions, both widely studied theoretically. When someone purchases an asset, his peers may also want to purchase it, both because they learn from his choice ("social learning") and because his possession of the asset directly affects others' utility of owning the same asset ("social utility"). We find that both channels have statistically and economically significant effects on investment decisions. These results can help shed light on the mechanisms underlying herding behavior in financial markets.

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File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2013/paper_222.pdf
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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 222.

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Date of creation: 2013
Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:222
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Abel, A.B., 1990. "Asset Prices Under Habit Formation And Catching Up With The Joneses," Weiss Center Working Papers 1-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  2. Scott E. Carrell & Bruce I. Sacerdote & James E. West, 2011. "From Natural Variation to Optimal Policy? The Lucas Critique Meets Peer Effects," NBER Working Papers 16865, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. Løken & Magne Mogstad, 2012. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," NBER Working Papers 18198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2011. "Financial literacy and retirement planning in the United States," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(04), pages 509-525, October.
  5. David Card & Alex Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," Working Papers 1269, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. Avery, Christopher & Zemsky, Peter, 1998. "Multidimensional Uncertainty and Herd Behavior in Financial Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 724-748, September.
  8. Yan Chen & F. Maxwell Harper & Joseph Konstan & Sherry Xin Li, 2010. "Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1358-1398, September.
  9. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & Silvia Redaelli, 2010. "Identification of Social Interactions through Partially Overlapping Peer Groups," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(2), pages 241-275, April.
  10. Scott E. Carrell & Mark L. Hoekstra, 2010. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 211-228, January.
  11. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2013. "Energy Conservation “Nudges” And Environmentalist Ideology: Evidence From A Randomized Residential Electricity Field Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 680-702, 06.
  12. Gali, J., 1992. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices," Papers 92-22, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  13. Alan T. Sorensen, 2006. "Social learning and health plan choice," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 929-945, December.
  14. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1082-1095, October.
  15. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Frederico Finan, 2009. "Neighborhood Peer Effects in Secondary School Enrollment Decisions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 695-716, November.
  16. Geng Li, 2009. "Information sharing and stock market participation: evidence from extended families," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-47, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
  18. Jing Cai & Alain De Janvry & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2015. "Social Networks and the Decision to Insure," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 81-108, April.
  19. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Katherine L. Milkman, 2015. "The Effect of Providing Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(3), pages 1161-1201, 06.
  20. Sunil Sharma & Sushil Bikhchandani, 2000. "Herd Behavior in Financial Markets; A Review," IMF Working Papers 00/48, International Monetary Fund.
  21. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
  22. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
  23. Jonathan Guryan & Kory Kroft & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2009. "Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 34-68, October.
  24. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:929-945 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Bogaçhan Çelen & Shachar Kariv, 2004. "Distinguishing Informational Cascades from Herd Behavior in the Laboratory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 484-498, June.
  26. Hongbin Cai & Yuyu Chen & Hanming Fang, 2007. "Observational Learning: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 13516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Ian Ayres & Sophie Raseman & Alice Shih, 2009. "Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage," NBER Working Papers 15386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
  29. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1998. "Comparison-concave utility and following behaviour in social and economic settings," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 133-155, October.
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