Don't Invest if the CEO Is Single?

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- When was the last time you checked a CEO's romantic status before choosing whether to invest?

If you're like most people with reasonable expectations of other people's privacy, the answer is probably "never." But if so, you want to pry after all.

A study from the Wharton School of Business found that firms run by single CEOs invest 10% more than firms run by married people, and that the volatility of those firms' stock returns is 3% higher than of their married counterparts.
Because of their desire to maximize wealth to attract a mate, single CEOs tend to make riskier bets with the companies they run.

"We find that companies run by CEOs classified as single in our data set exhibit higher levels of stock return volatility and pursue more aggressive investment policies than otherwise comparable firms," the authors say.

The National Bureau of Economic Research released the results of the study by Nikolai Roussanov and Pavel G. Savor this week. It surveyed 1,500 companies, 20% of whose leaders were single. Marital status was tied to concerns about amassing wealth, with the researchers concluding that single CEOs take more risks because the higher rewards when those risks pay off give them a better chance of finding a mate.

More specifically, singles' risk-taking was higher in terms of capital expenditures, R&D spending and acquisitions, all decisions risky in nature in that they involve a company spending rather than making money.

While there was no apparent difference found between men and women, Roussanov and Savor did find the effect weakened among the older set. Older singles, apparently unconcerned about their social status, are no riskier than anyone else.

Who knows, though: A little bit of risk might just be what older CEOs need to make an impression on a potential mate.

-- Written by Greg Emerson in New York

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