More than half of all U.S. households and one in three individuals own stocks directly or through mutual funds, according to a survey released Thursday by trade groups for the securities and fund industries.
Equity ownership has increased over the past two decades to the point where nearly 57 million households own stocks or funds, the survey by the Investment Company Institute and the Securities Industry Association found. By comparison, the number of households owning stocks directly or indirectly stood at 40 million in 1995, and 16 million in 1983, the groups said.
Equity ownership has been fueled largely by the expansion of defined contribution retirement plans, especially 401(k) plans, the survey found. The number of households owning stocks through employer-sponsored plans, which often offer mutual funds as investment options, increased by 5.2 million to 37.6 million between 1999 and this year.