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Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds

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  • James Choi
  • David Laibson
  • Brigitte Madrian

Abstract

Experimental subjects allocate $10,000 across four S&P 500 index funds. Subject rewards depend on the chosen portfolio's subsequent return. Because the investments are not actually intermediated by the fund companies, portfolio returns are unbundled from non-portfolio services. The optimal portfolio therefore invests 100% in the lowest-cost fund. Nonetheless, subjects overwhelmingly fail to minimize fees. When we make fees transparent and salient, portfolios shift towards cheaper funds, but fees are still not minimized. Instead, subjects place high weight on normatively irrelevant historical returns. Subjects who choose high-cost index funds are relatively much less confident about their asset allocation choices.

Suggested Citation

  • James Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte Madrian, 2008. "Why Does the Law of One Price Fail? An Experiment on Index Mutual Funds," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2369, Yale School of Management, revised 05 May 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:amz2369
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    mutual funds; S&P; index funds; fund portfolios;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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