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Business Week/Harris Poll: Americans And Stocks

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Time was when most people thought buying a house was the best investment they could make. Now, real estate is stone-dead, and more folks than ever are jumping into stocks. Americans remain relatively cautious: Though 401(k) plans and the like represent an important path into the market, half of survey respondents don't sink any retirement money at all into stocks. And investors have realistic expectations of their returns--even after the boom times of the past 19 months. Still, more individuals are investing more money in stocks than ever.EDITED BY KEITH H. HAMMONDSReturn to top


Poll: Thumbs Up On Stocks


If you had to choose the one investment that you think would be the best to

make right now, which would it be?

1996 1989

Real estate 25% 40%

Mutual funds 24% 8%

Common stock 10% 5%

Government bonds 9% 15%

Bank or savings & loan deposits 8% 8%

Gold or other precious metals 7% 8%

Money-market funds 6% 11%

Corporate bonds 2% 3%

I don't save or invest at all 3% NA

Not sure 6% 2%


Have you bought common stocks or shares in a stock mutual fund within the

past year, or not?

1996 1989*

Have bought 21% 15%

Have not bought 78% 84%

Not sure 1% 1%

*1989 survey did not specify "stock" mutual fund


Have you put money into a retirement savings plan such as a 401(k), Keogh,

IRA, or other tax-deferred plan over the past year, or not?

Have put money into plan 40%

Have not put money into plan 59%

Not sure 1%


[For those who have put money in a retirement savings plan] I'm going to

read some statements about your retirement savings plan money. Which of these

statements best describes your situation?

I have switched more of this money

into the stock market 20%

For the first time, I have put some

money into stocks 15%

I have switched some money out of

the stock market 8%

I have switched all of this money

out of the stock market 4%

I don't have any of this money

in the stock market 48%

Not sure 5%


If you invest in the stock market, do you prefer to buy individual common

stocks, stock mutual funds, or a combination? [420 respondents]

Individual common stocks 21%

Stock mutual funds 25%

Combination of the two 51%

Not sure 3%


[For stock investors] In the past few years, have your investments in the

stock market exceeded your expectations, met expectations, or failed to meet


Exceeded expectations 24%

Met expectations 57%

Failed to meet expectations 16%

Not sure 3%


[For stock investors] In the long run, what sort of total returns (capital

gains plus dividends) do you expect the stock market will produce for

you--below 5% a year, 5% to below 10% a year, 10% to below 12% a year, 12% to

below 15% a year, and 15% or higher a year?

Below 5% a year 8%

5% to below 10% a year 36%

10% to below 12% a year 29%

12% to below 15% a year 13%

15% or higher a year 9%

Not sure 5%


Over the next six months, do you think you will probably invest a lot more

in stocks or stock mutual funds, invest somewhat more in stocks or stock mutual

funds, reduce your investment in stock or stock mutual funds somewhat, or

reduce your investments a lot?

Invest a lot more 5%

Invest somewhat more 22%

Reduce somewhat 12%

Reduce a lot 18%

Stay the same 21%

I don't save or invest at all 20%

Not sure 2%


If there were a big crash in the stock market, would you increase your

holdings of stocks or stock mutual funds, maintain holdings, trim holdings, or

sell all your holdings?

Increase holdings 10%

Maintain holdings 48%

Trim holdings 11%

Sell all holdings 20%

I don't save or invest at all 8%

Not sure 3%

A survey of 1,005 adults was conducted on May 9-13, 1996, for BUSINESS WEEK by

Louis Harris & Associates Inc. A prior poll of 984 adults was conducted on Oct.

16-17, 1989.

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