Wealth creation in the US public stock markets 1926–2019

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This report quantifies long-run stock market outcomes in terms of the increases or decreases (relative to a T-bill benchmark) in shareholder wealth, when considering the full history of both net cash distributions and capital appreciation. The study includes all of the 26,168 firms with publicly traded US common stock since 1926. Although investments in the majority (57.8%) of stocks led to reduced rather than increased shareholder wealth, US stock market investments increased shareholder wealth on net by $47.4 trillion between 1926 and 2019. Technology firms accounted for the largest share—$9.0 trillion—of the total, but telecommunications, energy, and healthcare/pharmaceutical stocks created wealth disproportionate to the numbers of firms in the industries. The degree to which stock market wealth creation is concentrated in a few top-performing firms has increased over time and was particularly strong during the most recent 3 years, when five firms accounted for 22% of net wealth creation. These results should be of interest to any long-term investor assessing the relative merits of broad diversification versus narrow portfolio selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-61
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Investing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Performance measurement
  • Portfolio construction
  • Security analysis and valuation
  • Wealth management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Wealth creation in the US public stock markets 1926–2019'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this