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Private ethical fund investors across countries and time: a survey-based review

Anett Wins (Department of Statistics, University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany)
Bernhard Zwergel (Department of Finance, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany)

Qualitative Research in Financial Markets

ISSN: 1755-4179

Article publication date: 2 November 2015




This paper aims to provide an overview of the literature to point out similarities and differences among private ethical investors across countries and time. Over the past three decades, many surveys have been conducted to advance the understanding of the demographic characteristics, motivation and morals of private ethical investors across countries and time. To date, the survey-based evidence on private investors into ethical funds is geographically rather segmented, and the research questions are fairly diverse. This permits only very temporally or regionally selective conclusions. Thereby, the authors identify interesting topics for future research.


To identify the relevant literature for our review, the authors carried out a structured Boolean keyword search using major library services and databases.


When questions about negative screening criteria are presented in a direct investment context, the consensus of private ethical investors “worldwide” (on average) is that social screening issues are most important, followed by ecological and moral topics. The percentage of ethical funds in the fund portfolio of the average private ethical investor in Europe seems to increase when the investor exhibits high degrees of pro-social attitudes and perceived consumer effectiveness. European private ethical investors are of the opinion that ethical funds perform worse but are less risky than conventional funds.

Practical implications

The authors make suggestions on how investment companies should design their funds so that they can attract more socially responsible investors.


The paper is of particular value because it focuses on private investors in the fast growing retail market of socially responsible investment funds.



Wins, A. and Zwergel, B. (2015), "Private ethical fund investors across countries and time: a survey-based review", Qualitative Research in Financial Markets, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 379-411.



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