The Myth of Diffuse Ownership in the United States

Posted: 23 Mar 2009

Date Written: April 2009


This article offers evidence on the ownership concentration at a representative sample of U.S. public firms. Ninety-six percent of these firms have blockholders; these blockholders in aggregate own an average 39% of the common stock. The ownership of U.S. firms is similar to and by some measures more concentrated than the ownership of firms in other countries. These findings challenge current thinking on a number of issues, ranging from the nature of the agency conflict in domestic corporations to the relationship between ownership concentration and legal protections for investors around the world.

Keywords: G32, G34

Suggested Citation

Holderness, Clifford G., The Myth of Diffuse Ownership in the United States (April 2009). The Review of Financial Studies, Vol. 22, Issue 4, pp. 1377-1408, 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Clifford G. Holderness (Contact Author)

Boston College - Department of Finance ( email )

Carroll School of Management
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467-3808
United States
617-552-2768 (Phone)
617-277-8071 (Fax)

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