ESG and Socially Responsible Investment: A Critical Review

30 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2019

See all articles by Bruno Gerard

Bruno Gerard

BI Norwegian Business School - Department of Finance

Date Written: December 28, 2018


We review the literature on ESG and Socially Responsible Investment with a special focus on fixed income investments. Most of the academic research is focused on the link between corporate CSR and ESG activities, investors’ SR engagement and stock returns and firm value. Very few studies examine the link between firm ESG policies and bond prices, risks and returns, and the performance of SR FI funds. The studies linking CSR to firm value suggest that higher CSR leads to higher corporate value, higher equity returns and lower risk, enhancing the general collateral value of the firm. The FI income studies provide mixed evidence about the link between issuer ESG scores and bond prices and return characteristics: the bonds of issuers with both excellent and very poor ESG behavior tend to under-perform the bonds of issuer with neither very strong or very poor ESG scores. Lastly while issuers’ ESG excellence may have led to both their equity and debt outperforming those of poorer ESG issuers in the 90’s, this out-performance halved in the first part of the 2000’s and completely disappeared after the financial crisis. Markets seem now to largely price ESG performance in equity and bond prices.

Keywords: Fixed Income, Bonds, Green Bonds, SRI, CSR, ESG

JEL Classification: G11, G28, G34, M14

Suggested Citation

Gerard, Bruno, ESG and Socially Responsible Investment: A Critical Review (December 28, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Bruno Gerard (Contact Author)

BI Norwegian Business School - Department of Finance ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, N-0484
+4746410506 (Phone)

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