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The Persistence of Treatment Effects with Norm-Based Policy Instruments: Evidence from a Randomized Environmental Policy Experiment

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  • Paul J. Ferraro
  • Juan Jose Miranda
  • Michael K. Price

Abstract

Policymakers increasingly use norm-based messages to promote conservation efforts. Despite the apparent success of such strategies, empirical analyses have thus far focused exclusively on short-run effects. From a policy perspective, however, whether and how such strategies influence behavior in the long-run is of equal interest. We partner with a metropolitan water utility to implement a natural field experiment examining the effect of such messages on longer-run patterns of water use. Empirical results are striking. While appeals to pro-social preferences affect short-run patterns of water use, only messages augmented with social comparisons have a lasting impact on water demand.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.3.318
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 318-22

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:318-22

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  1. Ian Ayres & Sophie Raseman & Alice Shih, 2009. "Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage," NBER Working Papers 15386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Noah J. Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini & Vladas Griskevicius, 2008. "A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, 03.
  3. Paul J. Ferraro & Michael K. Price, 2013. "Using Nonpecuniary Strategies to Influence Behavior: Evidence from a Large-Scale Field Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 64-73, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Brandon C. Koford & Glenn C. Blomquist & David M. Hardesty & Kenneth R. Troske, 2012. "Estimating Consumer Willingness to Supply and Willingness to Pay for Curbside Recycling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 88(4), pages 745-763.
  2. Brent, Daniel A. & Cook, Joseph H. & Olsen, Skylar, 2013. "Heterogeneous Responses to Social Norms for Water Conservation," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C., Agricultural and Applied Economics Association 149697, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  3. Allcott, Hunt & Rogers, Todd T, 2012. "How Long Do Treatment Effects Last? Persistence and Durability of a Descriptive Norms Intervention's Effect on Energy Conservation," Scholarly Articles 9804492, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Schleich, Joachim & Klobasa, Marian & Gölz, Sebastian & Brunner, Marc, 2013. "Effects of feedback on residential electricity demand—Findings from a field trial in Austria," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1097-1106.
  5. Emma Aisbett & Ralf Steinhauser, 2011. "Maintaining the Common Pool: Voluntary Water Conservation in Response to Increasing Scarcity," Crawford School Research Papers, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University 1111, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  6. Allcott, Hunt & Rogers, Todd, 2012. "How Long Do Treatment Effects Last? Persistence and Durability of a Descriptive Norms Intervention's Effect on Energy Conservation," Working Paper Series rwp12-045, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Rachel Croson & Nicolas Treich, 2014. "Behavioral Environmental Economics: Promises and Challenges," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(3), pages 335-351, July.

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