Working Paper

CDI Paper;

Impact Investments: A Literature Review

Published on 1 July 2015

In terms of structure, this summary paper will first discuss findings from a review of documents presenting various methods of evaluating, assessing and/or measuring impact investments. Then, this paper covers literature on the evaluation of impact investments, including social and development impact bonds (SIBs/DIBs); and finally, this paper briefly reviews other modalities of socially-oriented investments. 

This paper is a summary of literature reviewed on the topic of the evaluation of impact investments. The literature was scoped using various methods, namely searching for keywords related to the literature review’s topic in Web of Science, a comprehensive search engine for existing academic publications, as well as Google. Other methods included scanning publications related to evaluation of various websites dedicated to impact investing, and scoping reference articles in the literature. Overall, 101 documents were found to relate to the topic of the review, of which 55 documents were deemed relevant enough for review (based on combinations of their abstracts/executive summaries, tables of content, titles, conclusions and the general body of the text). Most of the documents were found to focus on the themes of evaluation and measurement of impact investments, as well as social impact bonds (SIBs). The summary essentially draws on the 55 reviewed articles) as well as a few additional articles. 


Image of Justin Flynn

Justin Flynn

Research Officer & Postgraduate Researcher

Image of Chris Barnett

Chris Barnett

Honorary Associate

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Flynn, J., Young, J. and Barnett, C.
Centre for Development Impact


About this publication

Programmes and centres
Centre for Development Impact

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