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Blind spots in policy analysis: What economics doesn't say about energy use


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  • Paul C. Stern
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    This article describes the difficulties of reducing analysis of energy use to an application of economic theory. It shows how economic concepts of behavior direct attention selectively to some important determinants of consumer behavior and away from others; how available economic accounts of short-term change in energy use, investment in energy efficiency, and the dynamics of investment limit understanding and narrow analysts' vision; how promising policy options are overlooked as a result; and how concepts and knowledge from the noneconomic behavioral sciences can compensate. Two strategies are discussed for improving analysis. Using economic theory to guide the improvement of existing models can help, conceptual blind spots will remain. A problem-oriented approach drawing on concepts and methods from across the behavioral sciences can avoid the blind spots, but cannot be systematic. Analysis can be improved by using both approaches in concert; some implications of a combined strategy are sketched.

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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

    Volume (Year): 5 (1986)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 200-227

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:5:y:1986:i:2:p:200-227

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    Cited by:
    1. Wayne Gray & John T. Scholz, 1989. "A Behavioral Approach to Compliance: OSHA Enforcement's Impact on Workplace Accidents," NBER Working Papers 2813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Schade, Jutta & Wallström, Peter & Olofsson, Thomas & Lagerqvist, Ove, 2013. "A comparative study of the design and construction process of energy efficient buildings in Germany and Sweden," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 28-37.
    3. Garrett, Vicki & Koontz, Tomas M., 2008. "Breaking the cycle: Producer and consumer perspectives on the non-adoption of passive solar housing in the US," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 1551-1566, April.
    4. Michaelis, Laurie, 1997. "Transport sector-strategies markets, technology and innovation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(14-15), pages 1163-1171, December.
    5. Adua, Lazarus, 2010. "To cool a sweltering earth: Does energy efficiency improvement offset the climate impacts of lifestyle?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 5719-5732, October.
    6. Ulli-Beer, Silvia & Andersen, David F. & Richardson, George P., 2007. "Financing a competitive recycling initiative in Switzerland," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 62(3-4), pages 727-739, May.
    7. Tobias Fleitera & Joachim Schleich & Ployplearn Ravivanpong, 2012. "Adoption of energy-efficiency measures in SMEs - An empirical analysis based on energy audit data," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print), HAL hal-00805748, HAL.
    8. Bertoldi, Paolo & Rezessy, Silvia & Oikonomou, Vlasis, 2013. "Rewarding energy savings rather than energy efficiency: Exploring the concept of a feed-in tariff for energy savings," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 526-535.
    9. Gunn, Calum, 1997. "Energy efficiency vs economic efficiency? : New Zealand electricity sector reform in the context of the national energy policy objective," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 445-458, March.
    10. Dobroschke, Stephan, 2012. "Energieeffizienzpotenziale und staatlicher Lenkungsbedarf," FiFo Discussion Papers - Finanzwissenschaftliche Diskussionsbeiträge 12-1, University of Cologne, FiFo Institute for Public Economics.
    11. Manuel Frondel & Colin Vance, 2012. "Heterogeneity in the Effect of Home Energy Audits – Theory and Evidence," Ruhr Economic Papers, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen 0335, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    12. Kok, Gerjo & Lo, Siu Hing & Peters, Gjalt-Jorn Y. & Ruiter, Robert A.C., 2011. "Changing energy-related behavior: An Intervention Mapping approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 5280-5286, September.
    13. Schleich, Joachim & Gruber, Edelgard, 2008. "Beyond case studies: Barriers to energy efficiency in commerce and the services sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 449-464, March.
    14. Khademvatani, Asgar & Gordon, Daniel V., 2013. "A marginal measure of energy efficiency: The shadow value," Energy Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 153-159.
    15. Lutzenhiser, Loren & Shove, Elizabeth, 1999. "Contracting knowledge: the organizational limits to interdisciplinary energy efficiency research and development in the US and the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 217-227, April.
    16. Kowsari, Reza & Zerriffi, Hisham, 2011. "Three dimensional energy profile:," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7505-7517.
    17. Schleich, Joachim, 2009. "Barriers to energy efficiency: A comparison across the German commercial and services sector," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 2150-2159, May.
    18. Dianshu, Feng & Sovacool, Benjamin K. & Minh Vu, Khuong, 2010. "The barriers to energy efficiency in China: Assessing household electricity savings and consumer behavior in Liaoning Province," Energy Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 1202-1209, February.


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