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Author:Weisbenner, Scott 

Working Paper
Do pension plans with participant investment choice teach households to hold more equity?

Some retirement plans allow the participant to choose how funds are invested. Having to direct investments may provide the participant with financial education. This paper finds that households covered by pension plans in which the employee chooses investments are significantly more apt to hold stock outside of their retirement plan than are households with pension plans offering no such choice. The effect of investment choice upon non-pension asset allocation cannot be explained by portfolio rebalancing or differences in income and saving preferences across households. This provides some ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 1999-61

Working Paper
Executive financial incentives and payout policy: firm responses to the 2003 dividend tax cut

Using the 2003 reduction in dividend tax rates to identify an exogenous change in the after-tax value of dividends to shareholders, we test whether stock holdings among company executives is an important determinant of payout policy. We have three primary findings. First, we find that when top executives have greater stock ownership, and thus an incentive to increase dividends for personal liquidity reasons, there is a significantly greater likelihood of a dividend increase following the 2003 dividend tax cut, whereas no such relation existed in the prior decade when the dividend tax rate was ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2006-14

Working Paper
Investor behavior and the purchase of company stock in 401(k) plans - the importance of plan design

Using panel data for nearly 1,000 companies during 1991 to 2000, this paper finds that employees allocated nearly 20 percent of their total 401(k) contributions to purchases of company stock, and then relates this share to plan design features and firm financial characteristics. We find that the number of investment alternatives offered, n, and whether the company requires some of the match to be in company stock are key factors of the share of total contributions in company stock. We cannot reject the hypothesis that participants invest 1/n of their contributions in company stock. In ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2002-36

Working Paper
The geography of stock market participation: the influence of communities and local firms

This paper is the first to investigate the importance of geography in explaining equity market participation. We provide evidence to support two distinct local area effects. The first is a community ownership effect, that is, individuals are influenced by the investment behavior of members of their community. Specifically, a ten percentage-point increase in equity market participation of the other members of one's community makes it two percentage points more likely that the individual will invest in stocks, conditional on a rich set of controls. We find further evidence that the influence of ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2004-22

Working Paper
401(k) matching contributions in company stock: costs and benefits for firms and workers

This paper examines why some employers provide matching contributions to 401(k) plans in company stock and explores the implications of match policy for employee retirement wealth. Unlike stock option grants to non-executives, a firm's decision to match in company stock does not appear to be strongly correlated with cash flow or with measures of the benefits of aligning incentives of employees and employers. Rather, we find evidence that firms are more likely to provide the match in company stock if firm risk is low (i.e. lower stock price volatility and lower bankruptcy risk) and employees ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2004-23

Working Paper
Corporate share repurchases in the 1990s: what role do stock options play?

This paper investigates how the growth of stock option programs has affected corporate payout policy. Given that earnings per share (EPS) is widely used in equity valuation, some corporations may opt to repurchase shares to avoid the dilution of EPS that results from past stock option grants. Executives may also prefer distributing cash by repurchasing shares or retaining more earnings, as opposed to increasing dividends, to enhance the value of their own stock options. This paper tests the importance of these two hypotheses using cross-sectional and panel data on stock option programs. I ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2000-29

Working Paper
Who benefits from a bull market? an analysis of employee stock option grants and stock prices

Stock option grants to top executives and to employees below the top executive ranks have risen rapidly with stock prices in recent years. This paper examines the growth in stock option grants at S&P 1500 companies between 1996 and 1999, and estimates the pay-for-performance sensitivities of the value of new option grants for top executives and, separately, for employees below the top executive levels. In our framework, options are a reward for past performance, leading to a positive relationship between firms' stock prices and the value of new option grants. We find substantial sensitivities ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2001-57

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