Young Investors Are Occupying Wall Street

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Ask an 18-34-year-old American about the economy these days and you might just get an " Occupy"-type speech about class warfare and betrayal by the "1%."

Then again, you might not.
A TD Ameritrade survey says 18-34-year-old investors are more bullish on the stock market than older Americans.

A survey released by investing firm TD Ameritrade on Feb. 6 shows that among all investor demographics, it's younger folks who are the most bullish on the stock market. Researchers found that despite adverse economic conditions, younger investors are more likely to add funds to their investments than older investors.

The numbers tell the story: The financial firm reports that 46% of investors between the ages of 18 and 34 said they "expect to increase the amount of money they invest," compared with 20% of investors 35 or older.

A big reason for younger investors being more aggressive is basic demographics -- a 25-year-old has much more time until retirement than a 55-year-old does. The younger you are, the more risk you can take, and the more time you have to compensate for investment decisions that don't work out. Older investors don't have that time -- or that luxury, TD Ameritrade explains.

"Younger investors tend to be more optimistic because they have time on their side," said Fred Tomczyk, president and chief executive of TD Ameritrade, in a statement. "As investors get closer to retirement, they tend to become more cautious, and what's going on in the economy right now has exacerbated those feelings."

According to the TD Ameritrade study, 56% of 18- to 34-year-old investors say they are optimistic about the economy, while just 44% of investors 35 or older share the same sentiment.

Gender also factors in: 31% of women said President Barack Obama has the ability to jump-start the economy, while only 21% of men shared that opinion. On the other hand, men were more likely than women (41% vs. 25%) to say the Republican candidate for the White House can get the economy going again. Some other key points from the study include:
  • 51% of investors believe the S&P 500 will be higher three months from now.
  • 54% of investors have seen or expect to see improvements in the U.S. economy within the next year.
  • When asked which factors have the most influence on market volatility, men were more likely than women (52% vs. 45%) to blame the European sovereign debt crisis, while women were more likely than men to fault domestic unemployment (46% vs. 40%).
  • Women were also nearly twice as likely as men (23% vs. 14%) to say that it will take 18 months or more for the U.S. economy to improve.

The study's ultimate takeaway is that, somewhat surprisingly, big, bad Wall Street has youth on its side -- literally.

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