Amid scrutiny on fees and public and political outcry over inflated costs to investors, the Investment Company Institute issued a report on Wednesday stating that the average actual cost borne by stock mutual fund shareholders has plummeted 45% since 1980.

Equity fund shareholders paid an average of 1.25% in 2002, more than a full percentage point below the 2.26% paid, on average, in 1980. As for bond funds, investors paid 1.53% in 1980 and 0.88% in 2002. "The long-term downward trend in what it costs shareholders to invest in mutual funds is consistent and unmistakable," said Brian Reid, the ICI’s deputy chief economist, in a statement.

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