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Does personal experience with COVID-19 impact investment decisions? Evidence from a survey of US retail investors

Niculescu, C. E., Sangiorgi, I. ORCID: and Bell, A. R. ORCID: (2023) Does personal experience with COVID-19 impact investment decisions? Evidence from a survey of US retail investors. International Review of Financial Analysis, 88. 102703. ISSN 1057-5219

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.irfa.2023.102703


This paper explores the link between personal experience with COVID-19 and US retail investors’ financial decision-making during the first COVID-19 wave. Do retail investors that have personally experienced COVID-19 change their investments after the pandemic outbreak, and if so, why? We use a cross-sectional dataset from an online survey of US retail investors collected in July and August 2020 to assess if and how respondents change their investment decisions after the COVID-19 outbreak. On average retail investors increase their investments during the first wave of COVID-19 by 4.7%, while many of them decrease their investments suggesting a high heterogeneity of investor behaviours. We provide the first evidence that personal experience with the virus can have unexpected positive effects on retail investments. Investors who have personal experience with COVID-19, who are in a vulnerable health category, who tested positive, and who know someone in their close circle of friends or family who died because of COVID-19, increase their investments by 12%. We explain our findings through terror management theory, salience theory and optimism bias, suggesting that reminders of mortality, focussing on selective salient investment information, and over-optimism despite personal vulnerable health contribute to the increase in retail investments. Increased levels of savings, saving goals and risk capacity are also positively associated with increased investments. Our findings are relevant to investors, regulators, and financial advisors, and highlight the importance of providing retail investors with access to investment opportunities in periods of unprecedented shocks such as COVID-19.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Henley Business School > ICMA Centre
ID Code:112189


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