CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
Socially Responsible Investing: it Takes More than Words

Gunther Capelle-Blancard
Stéphanie Monjon

 Highlights :

 Abstract :
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) enjoys a large consensus and is frequently presented as a solution to conciliate finance and sustainable development. As proof of its success, most of its proponents point to the growth of the SRI market. The aim of this paper is to put this growth into perspective. To begin with, we propose an appraisal of the SRI market growth. Then, we use online search engines and archive collections to examine the popularity of SRI in the public debate. We also rely on a content analysis of articles that deal with SRI. It enables us to identify the most favored topics and consequently to find out journalists and scholars’ mainstream opinions and attitudes vis-à-vis SRI. Our main results can be summarized as follows. Actually, the SRI market share remains low (slightly more than 10%), not to say very low if we consider only “Core SRI” (very few percent). Its growth is relatively high in Europe, but its market share is stagnating in the US. In this regard, the contrast is striking with the growing number of articles related to SRI on the web and in books, newspapers and academic journals worldwide. The fact that these papers focus on the performance of the SRI funds, to the detriment of conceptual issues regarding ethic or altruism, may explain this dissonance.

 Keywords : socially and responsible investment | ethical investment | business ethics | corporate social responsibility | content analysis | conceptual analysis | financial performance | greenwashing | altruism

 JEL : A13, G11, G12, G20, M14
CEPII Working Paper
N°2010-15, August 2010

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 Fields of expertise

Money & Finance