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

  • 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://www.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
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:222
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
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Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/society.htm
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  2. 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.
  3. Giuseppe Moscarin & Marco Ottaviani & Lones Smith, . "Social Learning in a Changing World," ELSE working papers 010, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  4. Scott E. Carrell & Mark L. Hoekstra, 2008. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," NBER Working Papers 14246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Avery, Christopher & Zemsky, Peter, 1998. "Multidimensional Uncertainty and Herd Behavior in Financial Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 724-48, September.
  6. Cai, Jing & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2013. "Social Networks and the Decision to Insure," MPRA Paper 46861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2012. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2981-3003, October.
  8. 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.
  9. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1082-1095, October.
  10. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  11. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:i:4:p:929-945 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Sunil Sharma & Sushil Bikhchandani, 2000. "Herd Behavior in Financial Markets: A Review," IMF Working Papers 00/48, International Monetary Fund.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2011. "Financial Literacy and Retirement Planning in the United States," CeRP Working Papers 107, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
  17. 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.
  18. Geng Li, 2014. "Information Sharing and Stock Market Participation: Evidence from Extended Families," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 151-160, March.
  19. 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.
  20. Leonardo Bursztyn & Florian Ederer & Bruno Ferman & Noam Yuchtman, 2012. "Understanding Peer Effects in Financial Decisions: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 18241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  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. Alan T. Sorensen, 2006. "Social learning and health plan choice," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(4), pages 929-945, December.
  25. Gali, Jordi, 1994. "Keeping Up with the Joneses: Consumption Externalities, Portfolio Choice, and Asset Prices," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(1), pages 1-8, February.
  26. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Katherine L. Milkman, 2011. "The Effect of Providing Peer Information on Retirement Savings Decisions," NBER Working Papers 17345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
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