Ulrike Malmendier standing in outside setting
Photo credit: Julia Steinigeweg

Research Expertise and Interest

corporate finance, behavioral finance, behavioral economics, applied, microeconomics

Research Description

Ulrike Malmendier’s research lies in the intersection of economics and finance, and specifically how individuals make mistakes and systematically biased decisions. Her work includes research on CEO overconfidence, the long-term frugality of “Depression babies”, and the decision-making behind gym membership. She has recently been interested in the impact of economic shocks, such as high inflation or unemployment, on later economic behavior of individuals who lived through these periods.

One of the top financial scholars in academia, Ulrike Malmendier won the prestigious Fischer Black Prize from the American Finance Association for the best finance researcher under 40 in 2013, which noted the originality and creativity of her research in corporate finance, behavioral economics and finance, contract theory, and the history of the firm. She is the first (and so far only) female winner.

She has been teaching Corporate Finance and Behavioral Economics at UC Berkeley’s Department of Economics since 2006 and has been a Professor of Finance at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business since 2010.

Malmendier was inducted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.  Her numerous honors and prizes include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and the Bessel Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Her research has been honored several times with the Citation of Excellence by Emerald Management Reviews, including for her work on CEO overconfidence and financial expertise of directors. She also received the Fordham/NYU “Rising Star in Finance” award in 2012. She currently serves on the board of the American Finance Association and is a founding board member of AFFECT, the AFA’s American Female Finance Committee, and she is frequently asked to give keynote addresses.

Malmendier holds joint professorships in economics and business at Berkeley, where she is the founding co-chair of the Initiative in Behavioral Finance and Economics. Prior to UC Berkeley, she was an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and had visiting positions at Princeton University, Chicago Booth School of Business. In addition to teaching, she has conducted extensive research for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) and CESifo (Center for Economic Studies ifo Institute) in Germany. She is a founder and co-organizer of BEAM and SITE Psychology & Economics, the leading conferences in Behavioral Economics. Malmendier received her PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University in 2002, and her PhD in Law from the University of Bonn in 2000.

In the News

Advising Germany

Professor Ulrike Malmendier discusses her role as a top economic expert in Europe.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
April 15, 2020
James Mackintosh
However long it takes us to shake off the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic seizure, one very long-lasting impact could be, as this reporter puts it, the fact that "investors in their formative years have just discovered that stocks come with big risks attached." A study co-authored by business and economics professor Ulrike Malmendier found that investors who were young when they learned about poor equity performance tend to avoid stocks, while those who grew up in better times were less affected by downturns in the markets. And the effects aren't limited to young investors. In another study, Professor Malmendier and her colleagues found that CEOs who were young adults during the Great Depression were less likely to leverage up their firms than those who grew up in more solvent times.
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October 4, 2019
Andrew Van Dam
A new study is adding evidence that people who were scarred by economic shocks during their teens can show the impact of the experience in their consumer behavior some 40 years later. Last year, business and economics professor Ulrike Malmendier co-authored a working paper analyzing decades of data about how high unemployment affected consumers in the future. She and her co-author found that people who had been unemployed longer later spent significantly less than the average consumer. They also bought more things on sale and used more coupons. The difference remained when other factors -- such as income, wealth, age, geography, and demographics -- had been taken into account.
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