[Journal:] The European Journal of Finance [ISSN:] 1351-847X [Publisher:] Routledge [Place:] London [Year:] 2017 [Pages:] 1-26
This study investigates the importance of social norms for shaping women's and men's decision to participate in the stock market, aiming to disentangle the different channels playing a role in this decision. Gender role asymmetry is indicated by the country's rank in the gender equality index of the World Economic Forum. Using data from four national household surveys, we find that in Italy – the country with highly asymmetric gender role prescriptions – women's risk-taking behavior responds to this non-supportive environment. Consistent with the theory of social identity, Italian women refrain from stock market participation more than their self-reported risk tolerance levels would suggest. In contrast, in the three countries with a lower asymmetry in gender role prescriptions, no exaggerated female backing off from investing in stocks is observable. The result is robust to separately analyzing sub-samples of singles and couples. However, women who self-select into stock market participation invest the same portfolio share in stocks as do their male peers – independent of the society's degree of gender role divergence.