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The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (Revision of TILEC DP 2013-006)

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Author Info

  • Dur, R.
  • Vollaard, B.A.

    (Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economics Center)

Abstract

Abstract: Field-experimental studies have shown that people litter more in more littered environments. Inspired by these findings, many cities around the world have adopted policies to quickly remove litter. While such policies may avoid that people follow the bad example of litterers, they may also invite free-riding on public cleaning services. We are the first to show that both forces are at play. We conduct a natural field experiment where, in a randomly assigned part of a residential area, the frequency of cleaning was drastically reduced during a threemonth period. We find evidence that some people start to clean up after themselves when public cleaning services are diminished. However, the tendency to litter more dominates. We also find evidence for persistency in these responses after the treatment has ended.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center in its series Discussion Paper with number 2013-018.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubtil:2013018

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Web page: https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/research/institutes-and-research-groups/center-ar/

Related research

Keywords: littering; public services; free-riding; field experiment;

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  1. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2009. "Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information," NRN working papers 2009-23, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," JCPR Working Papers 62, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Anderson, Siwan & Francois, Patrick, 1997. "Environmental Cleanliness as a Public Good: Welfare and Policy Implications of Nonconvex Preferences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 256-274, November.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  5. Nyborg, Karine & Rege, Mari, 2003. " Does Public Policy Crowd Out Private Contributions to Public Goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(3-4), pages 397-418, June.
  6. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  7. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
  8. Christoph Engel & Sebastian Kube & Michael Kurschilgen, 2011. "Can we manage first impressions in cooperation problems? An experimental study on “Broken (and Fixed) Windows”," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  9. A. Abigail Payne, 2009. "Does Government Funding Change Behavior? An Empirical Analysis of Crowd Out," NBER Chapters, in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 23, pages 159-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
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