Fact, Fiction, and the Size Effect
54 Pages Posted: 24 May 2018 Last revised: 10 Aug 2018
Date Written: May 12, 2018
In the earliest days of empirical work in academic finance, the size effect was the first market anomaly to challenge the standard asset pricing model and prompt debates about market efficiency. The notion that small stocks have higher average returns than large stocks, even after risk-adjustment, was a pathbreaking discovery, one that for decades has been taken as an unwavering fact of financial markets. In practice, the discovery of the size effect fueled a crowd of small cap indices and active funds to a point where the investment landscape is now segmented into large and small stock universes. Despite its long and illustrious history in academia and its commonplace acceptance in practice, there is still confusion and debate about the size effect. We examine many claims about the size effect and aim to clarify some of the misunderstanding surrounding it by performing simple tests using publicly available data.
Keywords: Size, Size effect, Size anomaly, Small Cap, Microcap, Market efficiency, Illiquidity, January effect
JEL Classification: G11, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation