Majority of Pensioners Don’t Support Divestment: Survey

A new survey says that 64 percent of pensioners in the U.S. want their pension fund portfolio’s focus to be only on maximizing returns, and 55 percent don’t want the portfolios to be politicized.

The survey was notably sponsored by the Independent Petroleum Association of America – an oil and natural gas trade group who clearly has a stake in the issue.

Keeping that conflict in mind, more results:

As a general proposition, nearly two out of three (64 percent) pensioners say they want their pension fund manager to invest in a way that is solely focused on “maximizing returns” on the money they’ve invested. Interestingly, support for this position is even higher among respondents from energy ‐ producing states, such as Texas (86 percent), Pennsylvania (74 percent), and Colorado (71 percent). Among this group, strong majorities say they don’t want their investments to be “politicized” (55 percent) and that they’ve rightfully earned those higher returns based on their careers in the public ‐ sector (53 percent).

As a follow ‐ up, respondents were asked if they’d be willing to divest from any company or industry for political or personal reasons if it meant the possibility of lower returns. Nationally, 64 percent of respondents told us they would not be willing to do that, and opposition numbers were even more significant in energy producing states. In Texas, 83 percent of respondents rejected the idea out of hand, 74 percent of Pennsylvania residents did as well, and even in New York ‐‐ which ranks as a large consumer of oil and natural gas, but not quite as large a producer of it ‐‐ 69 percent of respondents agreed that divestment wasn’t for them.

Asked as an open ‐ ended question about which companies and/or industries pensioners might be comfortable divesting from based on political beliefs, only nine percent identified firms or industries related to oil and gas. In Texas, 88 percent of respondents told us they would actively oppose divesting from oil and gas companies, and large majorities appear to hold the same position in Pennsylvania (77 percent), Ohio (71 percent) and New York (72 percent) as well, among other states.

Read the full brief here.

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