Bearing an imprint

CEOs' early-life experience of the Great Chinese Famine and stock price crash risk

Wenbin Long, Gary Gang Tian, Jun Hu*, Daifei (Troy) Yao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We propose and test whether adverse life events experienced by CEOs are associated with firms' stock price crash risk. Based on a large sample of Chinese companies from 2000 to 2015, we find evidence that companies whose CEOs experienced the Great Chinese Famine in early life have lower stock price crash risk than those with CEOs who did not experience the famine. Further, the negative association between famine experience and crash risk is more pronounced for firms whose CEOs have greater decision-making powers and for non-State-owned enterprises. We also find direct links between famine experience and various factors that have already been documented as determinants of crash risk. Our results support behavior economics theory on imprinting: CEO memories of adverse life experiences have an indelible effect on their decision-making processes, which in turn influence how the financial information is provided and disclosed to the stock market.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101510
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Review of Financial Analysis
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • CEO early-life experiences
  • Great Chinese famine
  • Imprinting theory
  • Stock price crash risk

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