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Working Papers

June 2015, No. 15-07R

Stock Market Participation: The Role of Human Capital (Revised February 2018)

Kartik B. Athreya, Felicia Ionescu and Urvi Neelakantan

Human capital investment is significant for most individuals, while stock market participation is limited, especially early in life. Returns to human capital depend on individual traits and will, for some, dominate returns to stocks. To what extent does variation in human capital returns matter for the life-cycle path of stock market participation? We demonstrate that heterogeneity in human capital returns, when empirically disciplined, explains well why many do not invest in stocks especially when young. Our results suggest also that it is short sales constraints on stocks, and not borrowing constraints, that limit engagement with the stock market.


*A previous version of this paper was circulated under the title "Stock Market Investment: The Role of Human Capital."

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