Study: Most Americans don't trust the stock market

Six years after the financial crisis, most Americans remain unwilling to risk putting money in the stock market, according to a new report.

Research by Bankrate.com found that 73 percent of those surveyed are shying away from investing. This reluctance comes despite the low interest rates being paid on savings and government bonds, and market returns that exceeded 30 percent last year.

"People would rather have pathetically low interest rates in something safe rather than (what they see as) the roller-coaster returns on the stock market," Rick Larrick, a professor of management at Duke University, told Bankrate.com.

Trepidation around investing in stocks appears to persist across all age groups and income levels.

"Americans may be avoiding the buy-high, sell-low habit seen in previous market cycles, but only because they're not buying at all," Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate.com's chief financial analyst, said in a statement. "An overly conservative investment stance compounds the problem that so many Americans have of not saving enough for longer-range goals like retirement."

While Americans are hesitant about investing in equities, they are generally unhappy with the amount of debt they are carrying, Bankrate.com found. Not surprisingly, the unemployed, people with lower income and those without a college degree were more likely to fret about their financial obligations.

Among Bankrate.com's other findings, which are based on a monthly survey of how secure Americans feel about their personal finances:

  • 35 percent of college graduates were more likely to invest in stocks, compared with 17 percent of people who didn't attend college

  • Men tended to feel more secure about their jobs than women

  • Job security is higher for those beginning their careers than those who were about to retire

  • Nearly a quarter of people making $50,000 to $74,900 said they were less secure about their jobs, compared with 9 percent of those making $75,000 or more
  • Working-age respondents were more likely to feel better about their overall financial situation than retirees.
  • Constantine von Hoffman On Twitter»

    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald, TheStreet.com, CSO, and Boston Magazine.

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