Are environmental social governance equity indices a better choice for investors? An Asian perspective

Business Ethics: A European Review 25 (4):440-459 (2016)
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Abstract

This article examines the risk and return profiles of stock indices composed of companies meeting environmental, social and governance screening criteria [such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices ] and conventional composite indices of eight Asian countries from 2002 to 2014. The results indicate that there are no significant differences in the returns or risk-adjusted returns between the ESG indices and the composite indices within countries. The results do reveal that the market volatility of the ESG indices is higher than the market volatility of the conventional indices. Market betas of DJSI and ESG equity indices are significantly lower than betas of the composite equity indices. The overall results indicate that the performance of ESG equity indices of many Asian countries is similar to the performance of conventional indices, suggesting that investors can pursue socially responsible investing objectives without a material difference in portfolio performance from conventional investing.

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