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New paper: drivers of impact investment

I have a new paper out with Luisa De Amicis, Silvia Binenti, Felipe Maciel Cardoso, Carlos Gracia-Lázaro and Yamir Moreno: "Understanding drivers when investing for impact: an experimental study", which appeared today in Palgrave Communications.

Impacting investing aims to generate specific beneficial social or environmental effects in addition to financial gains. Impact investments may take the form of numerous asset classes and may result in many specific outcomes. The point of impact investing is to use money and investment capital for positive social results. In this context, what we did is try and understand the socio-demographic characteristics of investors who choose impact investment options over traditional investments; moreover, we also look into the drivers promoting such choices. To that end, we ran an experiment-based involving 602 participants (non-experts and experts in the financial sector) taking part in a multiple-choice game involving different investment scenarios and incentive conditions.
Our results show that both expert investors and female participants are more likely to choose impact investming, and that the tendency to invest in social funds increases with age. Rather disappointingly, we found no effects of external and centrally planned incentives, such as fiscal incentives, but the educational level of participants did show a significant influence on investing choices. On the other hand, information about the actual social impact achieved by funds does play a role in promoting socially oriented decisions, more strongly if visual aids are displayed prominently when promoting impact investment.

We are confident that our results will attract the interest of policymakers, social campaigners and investing practitioners themselves, in order to devise strategies for raising interest in impact investing or norms to improve the environment for social entrepreneurship more broadly.

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