Variability

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Variability'

The extent to which data points in a statistical distribution or data set diverge from the average or mean value. Variability also refers to the extent to which these data points differ from each other. There are four commonly used measures of variability: range, mean, variance and standard deviation.


The risk perception of an asset class is directly proportional to the variability of its returns. As a result, the risk premium that investors demand to invest in assets, such as stocks and commodities, is higher than the risk premium for assets such as Treasury bills, which have much lower return variability.

BREAKING DOWN 'Variability'

Variability is used to standardize the returns obtained on an investment. One measure of reward-to-variability is the Sharpe ratio, which measures the excess return or risk premium per unit of risk for an asset. All else being equal, the asset with the higher Sharpe ratio delivers more return for the same amount of risk.







RELATED TERMS
  1. Sharpe Ratio

    A ratio developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe to measure ...
  2. Standard Deviation

    1. A measure of the dispersion of a set of data from its mean. ...
  3. Risk-Adjusted Return

    A concept that refines an investment's return by measuring how ...
  4. Treasury Bill - T-Bill

    A short-term debt obligation backed by the U.S. government with ...
  5. Risk-Return Tradeoff

    The principle that potential return rises with an increase in ...
  6. Risk

    The chance that an investment's actual return will be different ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    Determining Risk And The Risk Pyramid

    Many investors do not understand how to determine the risk level their individual portfolios should bear.
  2. Investing Basics

    Introduction To Investment Diversification

    Reducing risk and increasing returns in your portfolio is all about finding the right balance.
  3. Fundamental Analysis

    The Capital Asset Pricing Model: An Overview

    CAPM helps you determine what return you deserve for putting your money at risk.
  4. Options & Futures

    Calculating The Equity Risk Premium

    See the model in action with real data and evaluate whether its assumptions are valid.
  5. Active Trading Fundamentals

    How To Convert Value At Risk To Different Time Periods

    Volatility is not the only way to measure risk. Learn about the "new science of risk management".
  6. Fundamental Analysis

    The Equity-Risk Premium: More Risk For Higher Returns

    Learn how the expected extra return on stocks is measured and why academic studies usually estimate a low premium.
  7. Economics

    The Problem With Today’s Headline Economic Data

    Headwinds have kept the U.S. growth more moderate than in the past–including leverage levels and an aging population—and the latest GDP revisions prove it.
  8. Economics

    Explaining the Participation Rate

    The participation rate is the percentage of civilians who are either employed or unemployed and looking for a job.
  9. Fundamental Analysis

    Is India the Next Emerging Markets Superstar?

    With a shift towards manufacturing and services, India could be the next emerging market superstar. Here, we provide a detailed breakdown of its GDP.
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Guggenheim Enhanced Short Dur

    Find out about the Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration ETF, and learn detailed information about this fund that focuses on fixed-income securities.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What assumptions are made when conducting a t-test?

    The common assumptions made when doing a t-test include those regarding the scale of measurement, random sampling, normality ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the utility function and how is it calculated?

    In economics, utility function is an important concept that measures preferences over a set of goods and services. Utility ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some of the more common types of regressions investors can use?

    The most common types of regression an investor can use are linear regressions and multiple linear regressions. Regressions ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What types of assets lower portfolio variance?

    Assets that have a negative correlation with each other reduce portfolio variance. Variance is one measure of the volatility ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. When is it better to use systematic over simple random sampling?

    Under simple random sampling, a sample of items is chosen randomly from a population, and each item has an equal probability ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some common financial sampling methods?

    There are two areas in finance where sampling is very important: hypothesis testing and auditing. The type of sampling methods ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Bear Market

    A market condition in which the prices of securities are falling, and widespread pessimism causes the negative sentiment ...
  2. Alligator Spread

    An unprofitable spread that occurs as a result of large commissions charged on the transaction, regardless of favorable market ...
  3. Tiger Cub Economies

    The four Southeast Asian economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Tiger cub economy indicates that ...
  4. Gorilla

    A company that dominates an industry without having a complete monopoly. A gorilla firm has large control of the pricing ...
  5. Elephants

    Slang for large institutions that have the funds to make high volumes trades. Due to the large volumes of stock that elephants ...
  6. Widow's Exemption

    In general terms, a widow's exemption refers to the amount that can be deducted from taxable income by a widow, thereby reducing ...
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!