• Products
  • Insights
  • Practice Management
  • Resources
  • About Us


  • Watch for 20%: Market cycles are measured from peak to trough, so a stock index officially reaches bear territory when the closing price drops at least 20% from its most recent high (whereas a correction is a drop of 10%-19.9%). A new bull market begins when the closing price gains 20% from its low.

  • Stocks lose 35% on average in a bear market.1 By contrast, stocks gain 111% on average during a bull market.

  • Bear markets are normal. There have been 27 bear markets in the S&P 500 Index since 1928. However, there have also been 28 bull markets—and stocks have risen significantly over the long term.

  • Bear markets tend to be short-lived. The average length of a bear market is 289 days, or about 9.6 months. That’s significantly shorter than the average length of a bull market, which is 965 days or 2.6 years.

  • Every 3.5 years: That’s the long-term average frequency between bear markets. Though many consider the bull market that ended in 2020 to be the longest on record, the bull that ran from December 1987 until the dot-com crash in March 2000 is technically the longest (a drop of 19.9% in 1990 nearly derailed that bull, but just missed the bear threshold).

  • Bear markets have been less frequent since World War II. Between 1928 and 1945 there were 12 bear markets, or one about every 1.5 years. Since 1945, there have been 15—one about every 5.1 years.

  • About 42% of the S&P 500 Index’s strongest days in the last 20 years occurred during a bear market. Another 36% of the market’s best days took place in the first two months of a bull
    market—before it was clear a bull market had begun.2 In other words, the best way to weather a downturn could be to stay invested since it’s difficult to time the market’s recovery.

  • A bear market doesn’t necessarily indicate an economic recession. There have been 27 bear markets since 1928, but only 15 recessions during that time.3 Bear markets often go hand in hand with a slowing economy, but a declining market doesn’t necessarily mean a recession is looming.

  • Assuming a 50-year investment horizon, you can expect to live through about 14 bear markets, give or take. Although it can be difficult to watch your portfolio dip with the market, it’s important to keep in mind that downturns have always been a temporary part of the process.

  • Bear markets can be painful, but overall, markets are positive a majority of the time. Of the last 94 years of market history, bear markets have comprised only about 21.4 of those years. Put another way, stocks have been on the rise 78% of the time.


Bear Markets Have Been Common

S&P 500 Index declines of 20% or more, 1929–2023

Start and End Date % Price Decline Length in Days
9/7/1929–11/13/1929 -44.67 67
4/10/1930–12/16/1930 -44.29 250
2/24/1931–6/2/1931 -32.86 98
6/27/1931–10/5/1931 -43.10 100
11/9/1931–6/1/1932 -61.81 205
9/7/1932–2/27/1933 -40.60 173
7/18/1933–10/21/1933 -29.75 95
2/6/1934–3/14/1935 -31.81 401
3/6/1937–3/31/1938 -54.50 390
11/9/1938–4/8/1939 -26.18 150
10/25/1939–6/10/1940 -31.95 229
11/9/1940–4/28/1942 -34.47 535
5/29/1946–5/17/1947 -28.78 353
6/15/1948–6/13/1949 -20.57 363
8/2/1956–10/22/1957 -21.63 446
12/12/1961–6/26/1962 -27.97 196
2/9/1966–10/7/1966 -22.18 240
11/29/1968–5/26/1970 -36.06 543
1/11/1973–10/3/1974 -48.20 630
11/28/1980–8/12/1982 -27.11 622
8/25/1987–12/4/1987 -33.51 101
3/24/2000–9/21/2001 -36.77 546
1/4/2002–10/9/2002 -33.75 278
10/9/2007–11/20/2008 -51.93 408
1/6/2009–3/9/2009 -27.62 62
2/19/2020–3/23/2020 -33.92 33
Average -35.24 289

As of 6/30/23. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors cannot directly invest in an index. Source: Ned Davis Research, 7/23.

A financial professional can help you build a diversified portfolio to help you feel confident in bull and bear markets alike.


S&P 500 Index is a market capitalization-weighted price index composed of 500 widely held common stocks.

1 Source for bear/bull market stats is Ned Davis Research as of 6/30/23 unless otherwise noted. 
2 Source: Ned Davis Research, 7/23. Time period referenced is 1/1/03–6/30/23.
3 Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, 12/22.

Important risks: Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. • Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in declining market.

This material is provided for educational purposes only.


CCWP045 3037403

The material on this site is for informational and educational purposes only. The material should not be considered tax or legal advice and is not to be relied on as a forecast. The material is also not a recommendation or advice regarding any particular security, strategy or product. Hartford Funds does not represent that any products or strategies discussed are appropriate for any particular investor so investors should seek their own professional advice before investing. Hartford Funds does not serve as a fiduciary. Content is current as of the publication date or date indicated, and may be superseded by subsequent market and economic conditions.

Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Investors should carefully consider a fund's investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the mutual fund, or ETF summary prospectus and/or prospectus, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing.

Mutual funds are distributed by Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC (HFD), Member FINRA|SIPC. ETFs are distributed by ALPS Distributors, Inc. (ALPS). Advisory services may be provided by Hartford Funds Management Company, LLC (HFMC) or its wholly owned subsidiary, Lattice Strategies LLC (Lattice). Certain funds are sub-advised by Wellington Management Company LLP and/or Schroder Investment Management North America Inc (SIMNA). Schroder Investment Management North America Ltd. (SIMNA Ltd) serves as a secondary sub-adviser to certain funds. HFMC, Lattice, Wellington Management, SIMNA, and SIMNA Ltd. are all SEC registered investment advisers. Hartford Funds refers to HFD, Lattice, and HFMC, which are not affiliated with any sub-adviser or ALPS. The funds and other products referred to on this Site may be offered and sold only to persons in the United States and its territories.

© Copyright 2024 Hartford Funds Management Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Not FDIC Insured | No Bank Guarantee | May Lose Value