As any kindergartener or first-grader can tell you, the first day of school can be nerve-wracking. To ease the transition, parents often take the day off to accompany their kids to school.

And as women increasingly participate in the workforce, new research finds that their absence on the first day of school is felt in the stock market.

The study finds that parental absence translates to lower trading volumes when compared with market activity on other school days. In countries with gender nondiscrimination laws governing hiring, the decrease in market activity on the first day of school was more pronounced.

The study, published in the Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, was conducted by Zvi Wiener, former dean of the Business School and a professor of banking and risk management at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, along with colleagues including Menachem Abudy and Yevgeny Mugerman at Bar-Ilan University.

The team surveyed 607 participants from 32 countries regarding their gender, education level, parental status and whether they accompanied their child on the first day of school.

They then pulled figures from the World Bank regarding female labor force participation in each of those 32 countries, as well as their trading volumes on their first day of school, which often coincides with the beginning of the trading week.

Some 72 percent of the countries surveyed experience a lower trading volume on the first day of school, with an average decrease of 12% in market activity.

Prof. Zvi Wiener. Photo by Ziv Shimshon/Hebrew University

The researchers compared these figures with similar data points from 1968 to 2017.

“By isolating and cross-referencing these data points we were able to see the effect of working women on trading volumes by paying close attention to what happens to market activity when those women are absent,” Wiener explained.

The researchers found that in 2018, two-thirds of both male and female respondents (67%) said they take off time from work to accompany their child on the first day of kindergarten or first grade.

“Our survey supports our assumption that both parents consider the first day of school an important event of their nuclear family,” Wiener said.

However, he added, “Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were fewer working mothers so their impact on volume trading on any given day was less pronounced. As women expand their place in the job market, their impact on the larger economy is significant.”

The researchers noted growing interest in the association between social considerations and stock markets.

“By focusing on the first day of school, we were able to pinpoint that the decrease in trading volume is related to the level of female workforce participation,” Wiener explained.

“The fact that trading volumes were negatively affected, particularly in countries with legislated gender non-discrimination laws that govern hiring practices, actually shows the extent to which gender equality has been largely successful in those societies,” Wiener added.