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Stock Market Returns in the Long Run: Participating in the Real Economy


  • Roger Ibbotson
  • Peng Chen


We estimate the forward-looking long-term equity risk by extrapolating the way it participated in the real economy. We decompose the 1926-2000 historical equity returns into supply factors including inflation, earnings, dividends, price to earnings ratio, dividend payout ratio, book value, return on equity, and GDP per capita. There are several key findings: First, the growth in corporate productivity measured by earnings is in line with the growth of overall economic productivity. Second, P/E increases account for only a small portion of the total return of equity (1.25% of the total 10.70%). The bulk of the return is attributable to dividend payments and nominal earnings growth (including inflation and real earnings growth). Third, the increase in factor share of equity relative to the overall economy can be more than fully attributed to the increase in the P/E ratio. Fourth, there is a secular decline in the dividend yield and payout ratio, rendering dividend growth alone a poor measure of corporate profitability and future growth. Contrary to several recent studies, our supply side model forecast of the equity risk premium is only slightly lower than the pure historical return estimate. The long-term equity risk premium (relative to the long-term government bond yield) is estimated to be about 6% arithmetically, and 4% geometrically. Our estimate is in line with both the historical supply measures of the public corporations (i.e., earnings) and the overall economic productivity (GDP per capita).

Suggested Citation

  • Roger Ibbotson & Peng Chen, 2001. "Stock Market Returns in the Long Run: Participating in the Real Economy," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm206, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Apr 2002.
  • Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm206

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, 2001. "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics Or Lower Propensity To Pay?," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 14(1), pages 67-79.
    2. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 2001. "Valuation Ratios and the Long-Run Stock Market Outlook: An Update," NBER Working Papers 8221, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Andrew Ang & Geert Bekaert, 2001. "Stock Return Predictability: Is it There?," NBER Working Papers 8207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mehra, Rajnish & Prescott, Edward C., 1985. "The equity premium: A puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 145-161, March.
    5. Merton H. Miller & Franco Modigliani, 1961. "Dividend Policy, Growth, and the Valuation of Shares," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34, pages 411-411.
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    Cited by:

    1. George M. Constantinides, 2002. "Rational Asset Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1567-1591, August.
    2. Laimutė Urbšienė & Andrius Bugajevas & Marekas Pipiras, 2016. "The Impact Of Investment Horizon On The Return And Risk Of Investments In Securities In Lithuania," Organizations and Markets in Emerging Economies, Faculty of Economics, Vilnius University, vol. 7(2).

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    Equity Risk Premium;


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