Survival Bias and the Equity Premium Puzzle

  • Author(s): Haitao Li, Yuewu Xu
  • Published: Dec 17, 2002
  • Pages: 1981-1995
  • DOI: 10.1111/0022-1082.00486

Previous authors have raised the concern that there could be serious survival bias in the observed U.S. equity premium. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we argue that the survival bias in the U.S. data is unlikely to be significant. To reach this conclusion, we introduce a general framework for modeling survival and derive a mathematical relationship between the ex ante survival probability and the average survival bias. This relationship reveals the fundamental difficulty facing the survival argument: High survival bias requires an ex ante probability of market failure, which seems unrealistically high given the history of world financial markets.

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