Get Real! Individuals Prefer More Sustainable Investments

Working paper
Sustainable & Impact Investing

Do people put their pension savings on the table to promote sustainability? We answer this question in a large-scale field experiment (n = 3,256). The pension fund in our study gave its members a real vote for more or less sustainable investments. A comparison group made the same decision, but hypothetically. We find that 66.7% of the participants favor to invest their pension savings in a sustainable manner. This choice is driven by social preferences. As a result of these strong social preferences we find no difference between the real and hypothetical treatment groups. We rule out financial beliefs, confusion, or a lack of information as explanation. Institutional investors benefit from taking their clients' social preferences seriously, with consequences for asset prices and the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.



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