The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation
AbstractWhile interventions to affect smoking, exercise, and other behaviors sometimes have short-run impacts, there is limited evidence on long-run effects. We study the three longest-running sites of the Opower energy conservation program, in which home energy reports with social comparisons and energy conservation tips are repeatedly mailed to more than six million households nationwide. At first, there is a pattern of "action and backsliding": the reports cue immediate conservation, but consumers' initial efforts begin to decay within less than two weeks. As more reports are delivered, this high-frequency cycling attenuates. In the long-run, consumers form a new stock of physical capital or consumption habits: if reports are discontinued after two years, the effects are much more persistent than they had been between the initial reports. Remarkably, however, consumers do not fully habituate: they still respond substantially if treatment is continued after two years. We show that the previous conservative assumptions about long-run persistence had dramatically understated cost effectiveness, and we illustrate how estimates of persistence and habituation can be used to optimize program design.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18492.
Date of creation: Oct 2012
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Economics; Underlying Principles
- D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
- L97 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Utilities: General
- Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-11-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-ENE-2012-11-03 (Energy Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2012-11-03 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2012-11-03 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-REG-2012-11-03 (Regulation)
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- 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.
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