Expanding Horizons: The Effect of Information Access on Geographically Biased Investing

Logan Emery, Huseyin Gulen

Research output: Working paperPreprintAcademic


Using investor internet access, we show that increased information access leads to decreased geographic bias in retail investor portfolios, although this ultimately harms the portfolio performance. With internet access improving information access, investors must choose whether to focus their attention on local or distant stocks, subsequently increasing or decreasing their geographic bias, respectively. We find that investors are more likely to invest in more distant stocks after starting to trade online. This is especially true for investors from rural areas and the southern region of the U.S. However, online investors are less likely to invest in new industries, increase their trend-chasing behavior, and appear to lose their advantage in local holdings, resulting in decreased Sharpe ratios despite the diversification benefits. The evidence is most consistent with distant stocks grabbing the attention of online investors and distracting them from their competitive advantage. Our findings demonstrate that while information access provides benefits for investors, it can also exacerbate behavioral biases, which places additional responsibility on investors to carefully manage how they use their access.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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