The Equity Premium



We estimate the equity premium using dividend and earnings growth rates to measure the expected rate of capital gain. Our estimates for 1951 to 2000, 2.55 percent and 4.32 percent, are much lower than the equity premium produced by the average stock return, 7.43 percent. Our evidence suggests that the high average return for 1951 to 2000 is due to a decline in discount rates that produces a large unexpected capital gain. Our main conclusion is that the average stock return of the last half-century is a lot higher than expected.