Understanding, measuring, and applying ESG preferences

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) preferences have become fundamentally important in the investment and pension domain. More and more investors demand their investments to adhere to ESG criteria, and the amount invested in ESG investments has also considerably increased over the last decade. Also, in more and more legislation, like MiFID II and EIOPA, it becomes mandatory to elicit investors’ ESG preferences, next to their risk and time ones. However, given the novelty of this field and despite its importance, there is a fundamental lack of understandings of the drivers of ESG preferences, how they could be measured, also in combination with risk and return preferences, and what this implies for applications in asset management and prices. This is where our project aims to find valuable insights and answers relevant questions for academia, industry and society at large. The team has experience with setting out surveys in the LISS panel.

Our project has three parts. In Part 1, we aim to first much better understand where E, S, and G preferences come from, how to define them, how stable they are, and how they are distributed among socio-demographic characteristics and other traits. Based on that, Part 2 targets the measurement of E, S, and G preferences in a practical way – simultaneously controlling for risk and return preferences. This should help setting needed industry standards for pension funds, insurers, and banks. Part 3 is geared towards management and asset pricing implications, based on the insights gained in the first two parts. Overall, the project will fill important and relevant gaps about E, S, and G preferences of pension participants, insurance holders and people generally. This allows for proper asset management of pensions.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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