I remember seeing a book written by John Bogle (the founder of Vanguard) where he suggested “individual investors should buy mutual fund not stock”. I agree with some of his arguments, such as diversification. And I believe that’s also the fact in the US: where pension fund and university endowment fund invested in stocks, mostly through mutual funds. But I don’t agree with his conclusion.
Come back to China. Since the inception of Chinese stock market, invididual stock investors, or Gu Ming 股民 have been an important force. Some made money, more lost money in this process. New blood filled in when old guys got wiped out.