IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Peer Effects in Residential Water Conservation: Evidence from Migration


  • Bryan Bollinger
  • Jesse Burkhardt
  • Kenneth T. Gillingham


Social interactions are widely understood to influence consumer decisions in many choice settings. This paper identifies causal peer effects in residential water conservation during the summer using variation from movers. We classify high-resolution remote sensing images to provide evidence that conversions of green landscaping to dry landscaping are a primary determinant of the reductions in water consumption. We also find suggestive evidence that without a price signal, peer effects are muted, indicating a possible complementarity between information and prices. These results inform water use policy in many areas of the world threatened by recurring drought conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Bryan Bollinger & Jesse Burkhardt & Kenneth T. Gillingham, 2020. "Peer Effects in Residential Water Conservation: Evidence from Migration," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 107-133, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:12:y:2020:i:3:p:107-33
    DOI: 10.1257/pol.20180559

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Chris Sampson’s journal round-up for 24th August 2020
      by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2020-08-24 11:00:07


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Elinder, Mikael & Hu, Xiao & Liang, Che-Yuan, 2021. "Water conservation and the common pool problem: Can pricing address free-riding in residential hot water consumption?," CERE Working Papers 2021:12, CERE - the Center for Environmental and Resource Economics.
    2. Cai, Shu & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2024. "Social Identity and Labor Market Outcomes of Internal Migrant Workers," GLO Discussion Paper Series 716 [pre.], Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    3. Alexandra E. Hill & Jesse Burkhardt, 2021. "Peers in the Field: The Role of Ability and Gender in Peer Effects among Agricultural Workers," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(3), pages 790-811, May.
    4. Cai, Shu & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2024. "Social identity and labor market outcomes of internal migrant workers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    5. Kenneth T. Gillingham & Bryan Bollinger, 2021. "Social Learning and Solar Photovoltaic Adoption," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 67(11), pages 7091-7112, November.
    6. Anna Dreber & Magnus Johannesson & Yifan Yang, 2024. "Selective reporting of placebo tests in top economics journals," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 62(3), pages 921-932, July.
    7. Pratt, Bryan, 2023. "A fine is more than a price: Evidence from drought restrictions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 119(C).
    8. Andrea La Nauze, 2023. "Motivation Crowding in Peer Effects: The Effect of Solar Subsidies on Green Power Purchases," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1465-1480, November.
    9. Bryan Bollinger & Kenneth Gillingham & A. Justin Kirkpatrick & Steven Sexton, 2022. "Visibility and Peer Influence in Durable Good Adoption," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 41(3), pages 453-476, May.
    10. Zhang, Anquan & Ni, Pengfei & Ling, Chen, 2022. "Peer effects in rural housing demand: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    11. Jesse Burkhardt & Nathan W. Chan & Bryan Bollinger & Kenneth T. Gillingham, 2022. "Conformity and Conservation: Evidence from Home Landscaping and Water Conservation," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 104(1), pages 228-248, January.
    12. Adloff, Susann, 2021. "Adapting to Climate Change: Threat Experience, Cognition and Protection Motivation," VfS Annual Conference 2021 (Virtual Conference): Climate Economics 242400, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    13. Brelsford, Christa & Abbott, Joshua K., 2021. "How smart are ‘Water Smart Landscapes’?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 106(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:12:y:2020:i:3:p:107-33. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.