ESG Investing: From Sin Stocks to Smart Beta

Author: Fabio Alessandrini, Eric Jondeau

Research on socially responsible investment in equity markets initially focused on sin stocks. Since then, the availability of data has been extended substantially and now covers environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. Using ESG scores of firms belonging to the MSCI World universe, we measure the impact of score-based exclusion on both passive investment and smart beta strategies. We find that exclusion leads to improved scores of otherwise standard portfolios without deterioration of their risk-adjusted performance. Smart beta strategies exhibit a similar pattern, often in a more pronounced way. Moreover, our results demonstrate that exclusion also implies regional and sectoral tilts as well as (possibly undesirable) risk exposures of the portfolios.

Alessandrini, Fabio and Jondeau, Eric, ESG Investing: From Sin Stocks to Smart Beta (March 21, 2019). Journal of Portfolio Management, Vol. 46, 2020,, Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper No. 19-16, Available at SSRN: or

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