Laura Starks

McCombs School of Business
University of Texas at Austin
2110 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712
Tel: 512/471-5899

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: CF
NBER Affiliation: Research Associate
Institutional Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2020Molecular Genetics, Risk Aversion, Return Perceptions, and Stock Market Participation
with Richard Sias, Harry J. Turtle: w27638
We show that molecular variation in DNA related to cognition, personality, health, and body shape, predicts an individual’s equity market participation and risk aversion. Moreover, the molecular genetic endowments predict individuals’ return perceptions, most of which we find to be strikingly biased. The genetic endowments also strongly associate with many of the investor characteristics (e.g., trust, sociability, wealth) shown to explain heterogeneity in equity market participation. Our analysis helps elucidate why financial choices are heritable and how genetic endowments can help explain the links between financial choices, risk aversion, beliefs, and other variables known to explain stock market participation.
October 2013Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Sticky or Discerning Money?
with Clemens Sialm, Hanjiang Zhang: w19569
Participants in defined contribution (DC) retirement plans rarely adjust their portfolio allocations, suggesting that their investment choices and consequent money flows are sticky and not discerning. Yet, the participants' inertia could be offset by the DC plan sponsors, who adjust the plan's investment options. We examine these countervailing influences on flows into U.S. mutual funds. We find that flows into funds that derive from DC assets are more volatile and exhibit more performance sensitivity than non-DC flows, primarily due to the adjustments of the investment options by the plan sponsors. Thus, DC retirement money is less sticky and more discerning.

Published: Clemens Sialm & Laura T. Starks & Hanjiang Zhang, 2015. "Defined Contribution Pension Plans: Sticky or Discerning Money?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(2), pages 805-838, 04. citation courtesy of

September 2009Mutual Fund Tax Clienteles
with Clemens Sialm: w15327
Mutual funds are pooled investment vehicles with diverse tax clienteles. Whereas many mutual funds are held primarily by taxable investors, a significant fraction of mutual fund assets are held in tax-qualified retirement accounts. Our paper investigates whether the characteristics, investment strategies, and performance of mutual funds held by diverse tax clienteles differ. Examining both mutual fund income distributions and mutual fund holdings, we find that funds held primarily by taxable investors tend to be more tax-efficient than funds held primarily in tax-deferred retirement accounts. Despite these differences, we find no evidence that any investment constraints that may arise from the funds that pursue tax efficient management strategies result in performance differences between ...

Published: Clemens Sialm & Laura Starks, 2012. "Mutual Fund Tax Clienteles," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(4), pages 1397-1422, 08. citation courtesy of

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