The majority of consumers lack awareness of how their financial situation will be when they retire. Women face a particularly severe situation. One reason is that reformed retirement systems are disadvantageous for women. Another reason is that women are much less interested to manage their money and to make long-term investments. This paper reviews prior studies on gender differences for financial consumers. Results are inconclusive and more research is needed to clarify when and why there are gender differences. This paper also analyses how the Swedish population has allocated their pension investments within the state pension system as well as the results from a nationally representative sample of consumers. There are less significant differences between expert men and women. Most differences are between novice men and women. Men are both more profit-oriented and more motivated to make financial investments than women are.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bruce, M. (1995) ‘Do women invest differently?’ ABA Banking Journal, Vol. 87, pp.34–35.
Court, D., Farrell, D. and Forsyth, J. E. (2007) ‘Serving aging baby boomers’, The McKinsey Quarterly, No.4, pp.103–113.
Ginn, J. (2003) ‘Pensions and poverty traps: Is saving worthwhile for women?’ Journal of Financial Services Marketing, Vol.7, No.4, pp.319–329.
Bernasek, A. and Shwiff, S. (2001) ‘Gender, risk, and retirement’, Journal of Economic Issues, Vol.35, No.2, pp.345–356.
Timmermann, S. (2005) ‘What working women want: Crossing the gender gap to a secure retirement’, Journal of Financial Service Professionals, Vol. 59, pp.29–32.
Frericks, P., Maier, R. and de Graaf, W. (2006) ‘Shifting the pension mix: Consequences for Dutch and Danish women’, Social Policy & Administration, Vol.40, No.5, pp.475–492.
Even, W. E. and Macpherson, D. A. (2004) ‘When will the gender gap in retirement income narrow?’ Southern Economic Journal, Vol.71, No.1, pp.82–200.
Olsen, R. A. and Cox, C. M. (2001) ‘The influence of gender on the perception and response to investment risk: The case of professional investors’, The Journal of Psychology and Financial Markets, Vol.2, No.1, pp.29–36.
Estes, R. and Hosseini, J. (1988) ‘The gender gap on Wall Street: An empirical analysis of confidence in investment decision making’, The Journal of Psychology, Vol.122, No.6, pp.577–590.
Dwyer, P. D., Gilkeson, J. H. and List, J. A. (2002) ‘Gender differences in revealed risk taking: Evidence from mutual fund investors’, Economic Letters, Vol.76, pp.151–158.
Schubert, R., Brown, M., Gysler, M. and Brachinger, H. W. (1999) ‘Financial decision-making: Are women really more risk-averse?’ AEA Papers and Proceedings, Vol.89, No.2, pp.381–385.
Russo, J. E. and Schoemaker, P. J. H. (1992) ‘Managing overconfidence’, Sloan Management Review, Vol.23, pp.7–17.
Barber, B. M. and Odean, T. (2001) ‘Boys will be boys: Gender, overconfidence, and common stock investment’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol.116, pp.261–288.
Warner, L. (2006) ‘Women aren’t making the grade: Prudential's 2006 women's study reveals disturbing trends’, Nava Outlook (September), pp.5–6.
Burton, D. (1995) ‘Women and financial services: Some directions for future research’, International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol.13, No.8, pp.21–28.
Byrnes, J. P., Miller, D. C. and Schafer, W. D. (1999) ‘Gender differences in risk taking: A meta-analysis’, Psychological Bulletin, Vol.125, No.3, pp.367–383.
Felton, J., Gibson, B. and Sanbonmatsu, D. M. (2003) ‘Preference for risk in investing as a function of trait optimism and gender’, The Journal of Behavioral Finance, Vol.4, No.1, pp.33–40.
Bliss, R. T. and Potter, M. E. (2002) ‘Mutual fund managers: Does gender matter?’ Journal of Business & Economic Studies, Vol.8, No.1, pp.1–15.
Sundén, A. and Surette, B. J. (1998) ‘Gender differences in the allocation of assets in retirement savings plans’, American Economic Review, Vol.88, pp.207–221.
Xiao, J. J. (2001) ‘Asset allocation in defined contribution retirement plans and private savings: Policy implications’, Consumer Interest Annual, Vol.47, pp.1–12.
Engström, S. and Westerberg, A. (2003) ‘Which individuals make active investment decisions in the new Swedish pension system?’ Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Vol.2, No.3, pp.225–245.
Roszkowski, M. J. and Grable, J. (2005) ‘Gender stereotypes in advisors’ clinical judgments of financial risk tolerance: Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear’, The Journal of Behavioral Finance, Vol.6, No.4, pp.181–191.
For more information about the PPM, see for example Hedesström, T. M., Svedsäter, H. and Gärling, T. (2007) ‘Determinants of the use of heuristic choice rules in the Swedish Premium Pension Scheme: An internet-based survey’, Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol.28, No.1, pp.113–126.
Petty, R. E. and Cacioppo, J. T. (1984) ‘Source factors and the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion’, Advances in Consumer Research, Vol.11, pp.668–672.
Johnson, E. J., Pham, M. T. and Johar, G. V. (2007) ‘Consumer behavior and marketing’, in Kruglanski, A. W. and Higgins, E. T. (eds) ‘Social Psychology. Handbook of Basic Principles’, 2nd edn,The Guilford Press, New York, pp.869–887.
Rucker, D. D. and Petty, R. E. (2006) ‘Increasing the effectiveness of communications to consumers: Recommendations based on elaboration likelihood and attitude certainty perspectives’, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Vol.25, No.1, pp.39–52.
Filbeck, G., Hatfield, P. and Horvath, P. (2005) ‘Risk aversion and personality type’, The Journal of Behavioral Finance, Vol.6, No.4, pp.170–180.
Powell, M. and Ansic, D. (1997) ‘Gender differences in risk behavior in financial decision-making: An experimental analysis’, Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol.18, pp.605–628.
Watson, J. and McNaughton, M. (2007) ‘Gender differences in risk aversion and expected retirement benefits’, Financial Analysts Journal, Vol.63, No.4, pp.52–62.
The author acknowledges the helpful comments made by the Conference and Journal reviewers.
About this article
Cite this article
Martenson, R. Are men better investors than women? Gender differences in mutual fund and pension investments. J Financ Serv Mark 13, 72–81 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1057/fsm.2008.7
- gender differences
- retail banking
- mutual funds