Death of the Individual Investor

A fun factoid from a John Bogle editorial in today’s WSJ (in service of his new book “Battle for the Soul of Capitalism”):

… direct ownership of stocks by American households has declined from 91% in 1950 to just 32% today.


  1. 91% in 1950? That doesn’t sound like it could possibly be right. Query whether 91% of the population had residential electric power and indoor plumbing in 1950.

  2. cognominal says:

    It probably means that 91% of the stock value
    was owned by people, not that 91% of people owned
    Anyway, it proves again that number are meaningless
    because they are repeated and the original
    context is eventually lost.
    This is even worse in the corporate world than in the informational world.
    Die Excel. Die Powerpoint Die.
    Context is everything.
    That is supposing that quoted figure stays correct. We are still said to eat spinach
    for iron because misplaced decimal point in
    1870! And I am not sure we are even able to metabolize iron in vegetable.

  3. Funny, I had same thought in posting the snippet, and I wondered how many people would see the same issue. After all, if this is value based & the total cap of the stock market has climbed faster than the population (which it has), then we could very well have more individual investors in the market with higher inflation-adjusted holdings.

  4. This does not include mutual funds?

  5. Martin Tibbitts says:

    Does this really matter? Or could this article be retitled “many many more people buy stock through mutual funds”?
    Martin Tibbitts