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The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation

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  • Hunt Allcott
  • Todd Rogers

Abstract

We document three remarkable features of the Opower program, in which social comparison-based home energy reports are repeatedly mailed to more than six million households nationwide. First, initial reports cause high-frequency "action and backsliding," but these cycles attenuate over time. Second, if reports are discontinued after two years, effects are relatively persistent, decaying at 10-20 percent per year. Third, consumers are slow to habituate: they continue to respond to repeated treatment even after two years. We show that the previous conservative assumptions about post-intervention persistence had dramatically understated cost effectiveness and illustrate how empirical estimates can optimize program design.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Todd Rogers, 2014. "The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3003-3037, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:10:p:3003-37
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.10.3003
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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