Elena S. Pikulina

Assistant Professor

Finance Division
Sauder School of Business
University of British Columbia

Email: elena (dot) pikulina (at) sauder.ubc.ca
Phone: +1 604 822 3314
2053 Main Mall, HA864
Vancouver BC
V6T 1Z2 Canada

Download my CV

Working Papers

Subtle discrimination with Daniel Ferreira. R&R at the Journal of Finance

Best Paper Award at the CSEF-RCFS Finance, Labor and Inequality Conference (Capri, Italy)

Presented at: Vienna Festival of Finance Theory, 2023 NBER SI, Personnel Economics; 2023 CSEF-RCFS Finance, Labor and Inequality Conference; Adam Smith Workshop Spring 2023; NBER Corporate Finance Meetings, Spring 2023; 2023 FMA Napa/Sonoma Finance Conference; ESCP Workshop on ESG; 2023 AFA Meetings

We introduce the concept of subtle discrimination—biased acts that cannot be objectively ascertained as discriminatory—and study its implications in a model of competitive promotions. When choosing among similarly qualified candidates, a principal with a subtle bias towards a particular group may plausibly deny being biased. We show that subtle (as opposed to overt) discrimination has unique implications. Discriminated candidates perform better in low-stakes careers, while favored candidates perform better in high-stakes careers. In equilibrium, firms are polarized: high-productivity firms become “progressive” and have diverse management teams, while low-productivity firms choose to be “conservative” and homogeneous at the top.

Political divide and the composition of households’ equity portfolios with Yihui Pan, Stephan Siegel, and Tracy Yue Wang.

Wharton School - WRDS Award For the Best Empirical Finance Paper, 2023 WFA (San Francisco, USA)

Presented at: The Sydney Banking and Financial Stability Conference; The USC Social and Behavioral Finance Conference; 2023 WFA Meetings; 2023 Eastern Finance Association Meetings; 2023 AFFECT Workshop

We examine the stock holdings of wealthy households across U.S. counties with different political preferences over the past 25 years. We find that portfolio composition increasingly differs between counties with different political preferences. Using the entry of a major conservative media network as a shock to political preferences, we provide evidence for a causal effect of political differences. We show that partisan differences with respect to social and environmental preferences and affective polarization contribute to the increasing effect of political differences on portfolio differences between counties, leading to the segmentation of U.S. equity markets by political and geographical lines.


Pan, Yuhui, Elena S. Pikulina, Stephan Siegel and Tracy Yue Wang (2021). Do equity markets care about income inequality? Evidence from pay ratio disclosure. The Journal of Finance 77 (2022): 1371-1411.

Pikulina, Elena and Chloe Tergiman (2020). Preferences for power. Journal of Public Economics 185 (2020): 104-173.

Pikulina, Elena, Luc Renneboog, and Philippe N. Tobler. Do confident individuals generally work harder? Journal of Multinational Financial Management 44 (2018): 51-60.

Pikulina, Elena, Luc Renneboog, and Philippe N. Tobler. Overconfidence and Investment: An Experimental Approach. Journal of Corporate Finance 43 (2017): 175-192. Experimental instructions.

Pikulina, Elena, and Luc Renneboog. 14. Serial takeovers, large shareholders, and CEOs' equity-based compensation. Research Handbook on Shareholder Power (2015): 297.

Pikulina, Elena, Luc Renneboog, Jenke Ter Horst, and Philippe N. Tobler. Bonus schemes and trading activity. Journal of Corporate Finance 29 (2014): 369-389.

Drobyshevsky, Sergey, Sergey Narkevich, Elena Pikulina, and Dmitry Polevoy. Analysis of a possible bubble on the Russian real estate market. Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy Research Paper Series 128 (2009).


Download the pay ratio data from my JF paper with Yihui Pan, Stephan Siegel, and Tracy Wang.

Mount Thompson summit view to the east, Canadian Rockies