The Valuation of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Willingness to Pay Experiment

We present an experimental study of investors’ willingness to pay for socially responsible assets. We design an initial public offering experiment in which various assets may be issued with a constant financial risk and return profile but with different intensity and timing of social responsibility: the expected social benefit of assets may be high or low, and the social benefit may occur when the financial payoff is good or bad. The social benefit is represented in the experiment by a donation to a charity that is realized only if the asset is issued. We find that individuals attribute a positive value to social responsibility at an increasing rate, and that assets generating an extra-financial benefit when financial performance is bad suffer from a price discount. We offer implications for the design of corporate social responsibility policies, for asset pricing of responsible assets and for the design of responsible investment funds.

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