Returns from Investing in Equity Mutual Funds 1971 to 1991



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    • Malkiel is from Princeton University. I am indebted to Yexiao Xu for invaluable research assistance, to Lipper Analytic Services for providing the datasets, to René Stulz and an anonymous referee for very helpful comments, and to Princeton University's Center for Economic Policy Studies for financial support.


Several recent studies suggest that equity mutual fund managers achieve superior returns and that considerable persistence in performance exists. This study utilizes a unique data set including returns from all equity mutual funds existing each year. These data enable us more precisely to examine performance and the extent of survivorship bias. In the aggregate, funds have underperformed benchmark portfolios both after management expenses and even gross of expenses. Survivorship bias appears to be more important than other studies have estimated. Moreover, while considerable performance persistence existed during the 1970s, there was no consistency in fund returns during the 1980s.