We investigate two alternative explanations why men may hold more stocks than women do. Apart from the traditional explanation of a gender difference in risk aversion, gender differences in either optimism or in perceived risk of financial markets might cause men to hold riskier assets. Our results show that men tend to be significantly more optimistic than women regarding a broad range of issues, including the economy and financial markets. After we take differences in optimism into account, systematic gender differences in asset allocations disappear.
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