Business school research suggests men more optimistic than women on economy

Men tend to be significantly more optimistic than women, according to new research from University of Edinburgh Business School.

The international study, carried out in partnership with University of Auckland, RSM Erasmus University and University of Nottingham Business School in China found men had a substantially more positive outlook on the economy in general, their country’s prospects, their own and their families’ future.

To be published in the Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organisation this month the paper, ‘Gender differences in optimism and asset allocation’, found women take a far more pessimistic view on these issues and have a more negative outlook on prospects for inflation, interest rates and unemployment, as well their own retirement prospects.

Women were only found to be more optimistic than men when asked about their faith in government.

The research was the first of its kind to analyse opinion polls and consumer confidence indexes, covering more than one million respondents from 18 countries during the past 35 years, to assess differences in optimism between genders.

While female risk aversion has often been referenced as a cause of gender differences in investment decisions, the new research suggests optimism on potential returns may be the reason men invest 47% of their wealth in stocks, compared to women who invest just 43% on average.

Professor Ben Jacobsen, Chair in Financial Markets at University of Edinburgh Business School, who led the research, said;

“For the first time, by collating all available data on gender differences in consumer confidence and opinion, we’ve been able to comprehensively prove men are more optimistic about their own, their families and their countries’ future prospects.

“Not only does this offer an alternative explanation to why women appear to invest less in the stock market than men, but such a demonstrable trend suggests men may be more optimistic in general.

“As existing medical research suggests optimistic people are healthier, happier and tend to live longer, this new understanding of the differences in optimism between genders could have significant and wide-ranging implications”