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ECONOMICS REPORT - Socially Responsible Investing Grows

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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

More and more people are considering the social and environmental results of their investments. Socially responsible investing has become a fast-growing part of the investment industry. Over two trillion dollars are invested using socially responsible methods. This is about nine percent of all money invested under professional management.

One way to invest is through mutual funds. A mutual fund gathers money from many investors to buy different securities. Mutual fund supervisors can use socially responsible methods to choose which investments they will buy. The funds' supervisors may buy only stocks of companies that meet the requirements set out by the fund. This process is called screening.

For example, a fund could invest only in companies that take measures to protect the environment. The most commonly screened stocks are related to companies that make cigarettes.

The Social Investment Forum in its two thousand five report said separate accounts use socially responsible screening the most. These are accounts that are privately managed for individuals or organizations.

Shareholder advocacy is another form of socially responsible investing. One example is the movement to stop investing in companies that did business in South Africa during the period of racial separation in that country. Shareholders sometimes sell stocks of companies that do not share their social values.

Community investing is the most direct form of social investing. This means providing credit or investing in businesses in a local community.

Today, about half of American families own stock in some form. And more people are considering the effect their investments have. This has caused some companies to consider social issues as well as business plans.

A recent public opinion study by Harris Interactive and the Wall Street Journal asked people what they thought were the best and worst American companies. The people named the software maker Microsoft as the best company.

One of the main reasons is the company's chairman, Bill Gates. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given billions of dollars to organizations around the world to support health care and education.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. Transcripts and archives are at www.unsv.com. I'm Mario Ritter.

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