Investment Behaviour on the Capital Market – No Gender Gap if Risk Tolerance Levels Are Similar


Women are less willing to take financial risks on the capital market than men. However, this is not because of their gender, but rather their attitude towards risk. In cases where individuals exhibit a similar willingness to take risks, the role of gender becomes insignificant. These are the main findings of a study conducted by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim, involving the analysis of a representative survey of just under 4,500 private households in Germany. The Panel on Household Finances is conducted regularly by the Deutsche Bundesbank. An analysis of customer data carried out by the ING-DiBa produced similar findings.

According to the survey, 75 per cent of the female participants were unwilling to undertake any kind of financial risk, while 23 per cent were prepared to take on an average level of risk for average returns. When it comes to the male participants, 63 per cent wished to avoid any financial risk, while 32 per cent assumed an average level of risk for average profits. If the attitude to risk is accounted for, however, we find that men and women exhibit similar behaviour on the capital market. When comparing a woman and a man with the same attitude towards risk, for instance, gender no longer appears to have any great influence on investment in risky shares. Investors therefore act according to their level of risk tolerance.

This level varies depending on a number of factors, such as age and income. According to the analysis of the survey data, women over the age of 65 and with a household income of less than 2,000 euros a month are overwhelmingly (88 per cent) risk-averse on the capital market. Among women in the same age group but with a monthly household income of more than 4,000 euros, 64 per cent try to avoid risk. 69 per cent of younger women aged between 18 and 35 with a monthly budget of 2,000 euros are risk-averse, a figure which drops to just over half (52 per cent) among women in the same age group with a monthly income of more than 4,000 euros. Risk aversion also varies among men in similar ways according to age and income.

If women do hold securities, their investment behaviour is similar to that of men. With financial wealth of on average 68,000 euros among women and 81,000 euros among men, women invest 34 per cent of their wealth in securities, while men invest 36 per cent. Women who maintain a portfolio of securities often choose to invest their wealth in funds (74 per cent; men: 71 per cent). Shares in listed corporations seem to be less popular among the female survey participants (45 per cent) than among the men (57 per cent).

The analysis of the survey results is set to be published as part of the ZEW Discussion Papers series.

For further information please contact:

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Martin Weber, Phone +49 (0)621 181-1532,


General documents

Presentation with further results of the evaluation


Scientific Contact Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Martin Weber
To the profile
Scientific Contact Dr. Carolin Schmidt
To the profile
Scientific Contact Prof. Dr. Oliver Lerbs
To the profile
Online Communications Manager, Yvonne Bräutigam, MSc
To the profile