Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



We explore whether beneficiaries of pension plans should have a voice in the fund’s sustainable investments. We hypothesize that the answer to this question depends on a fund’s legal and societal contexts, benchmarking pressure, and fund-specific factors such as the fund’s size and the board’s composition. We uncover heterogeneity in the degree to which beneficiaries are involved in decision-making. Some pension funds have started a dialogue with their participants, mainly using survey instruments. We provide an example of a fund that gave its participants a real vote, while avoiding the pitfalls that come with hypothetical surveys on individual preferences.


The published version of this working paper can be found in the 2023 publication: Pension Funds and Sustainable Investment: Challenges and Opportunities.


pension participant survey, social preferences, socially responsible investments

JEL Code

G02, G20, G23, G28

Working Paper Number


Copyright/Permission Statement

All findings, interpretations, and conclusions of this paper represent the views of the authors and not those of the Wharton School or the Pension Research Council. © 2021 Pension Research Council of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.


The project leading to this application has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 894345 (in LEVEL EEI Project). We also gratefully acknowledge research support from Netspar.

Included in

Economics Commons



Date Posted: 21 July 2021