2018 GCGC

1-2 June 2018

Do Investors Value Sustainability? A Natural Experiment Examining Ranking and Fund Flows


Samuel Hartzmark

Assistant Professor of Finance,University of Chicago Booth School of Business


Giovanna Nicodano

Professor of Financial Economics / Università di Torino


Examining a shock to the salience of the sustainability of $8 trillion of mutual funds, we present causal evidence that investors marketwide value sustainability. Being categorized low sustainability resulted in net outflows of more than $12 billion while being categorized high sustainability led to net inflows greater than $24 billion. Investors reacted to extreme categories, ignoring middle categories and rating details, demonstrating that categorization makes extreme features salient, with marketwide impact. Experimental evidence suggests that sustainability is viewed as positively predicting future performance, but we do not find evidence that high sustainability funds outperform low sustainability funds.

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