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

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Working Papers

Subtle discrimination with Daniel Ferreira.

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

Presented at: 2023 NBER SI, Personnel Economics (scheduled); 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 propose a theory of subtle discrimination, defined as biased acts that cannot be objectively ascertained as discriminatory. We present a model in which candidates compete for a promotion. When choosing among equally qualified candidates, the principal subtly discriminates by breaking ties in favor of candidates from a particular group. Subtle discrimination matters because it affects decisions to invest in human capital. The model predicts that discriminated agents perform better in low-stakes careers while favored agents perform better in high-stakes careers. In equilibrium, firms are polarized: high-productivity firms strive to be “progressive” and have diverse top management teams, while low-productivity firms prefer to be “conservative” and have little diversity 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: 2023 WFA Meetings; 2023 Eastern Finance Association Meetings; 2023 AFFECT Workshop

We examine the differences in the stock holdings of wealthy households in different counties of the U.S. with different political preferences over the past 25 years. Although political differences between counties have been increasing since at least 1996, it is not until 2013 when they started to increasingly and significantly contribute to differences in equity portfolio composition. Using the entry of a major conservative media network as a shock to county-level political preferences, we find evidence for a causal effect of political differences. We show that the effect of political differences on portfolio differences operates mainly through diverging political views on social and environmental issues rather than differences in economic expectations. Our study suggests that political polarization could reduce risk sharing and segment U.S. equity markets by political lines and – given the partisan segregation – 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).

Mount Thompson summit view to the east, Canadian Rockies