The Contributions of Betas versus Characteristics to the ESG Premium
Firms that score low on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) indicators exhibit higher expected returns. This negative ESG premium might be driven by higher risk associated with low ESG scores, or it could signal investors’ preferences for firms with high ESG scores. A one standard deviation decrease in ESG scores is associated with an increase of 13 basis points in monthly expected returns. This study also sheds new light on how the term structure of the ESG premium has changed over time.