Boys Will Be Boys: Financial Trading

Manly and womanly behavior diverge when people play the stock market, hints this report:

“Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, and Common Stock Investmen,” Brad Barber and Terrance Odean, Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 116, no. 1, February 2001, pp. 261-92 (
The authors, at the University of California, Davis, report:

Theoretical models predict that overconfident investors trade excessively. We test this prediction by partitioning investors on gender. Psychological research demonstrates that, in areas such as finance, men are more overconfident than women. Thus, theory predicts that men will trade more excessively than women. Using account data for over 35,000 households from a large discount brokerage, we analyze the common stock investments of men and women from February 1991 through January 1997. We document that men trade 45 percent more than women. Trading reduces men’s net returns by 2.65 percentage points a year as opposed to 1.72 percentage points for women. “It’s not what a man don’t know that makes him a fool, but what he does know that ain’t so.”—Josh Billings, nineteenth century American humorist.

(That’s an excerpt from the article “Financial Meltdown,” Published in AIR 15:3.)