Too poor to be green consumers? A field experiment on revealed preferences for firewood in rural Guatemala
The paper reports on a field experiment that investigates whether households in Guatemala are willing to surrender a small material gain in order to buy legal rather than illegal firewood. Given the ineffectiveness of command-and-control policies to curb the problem of illegal logging in Guatemala, the experiment assesses the potential viability of market-oriented solutions. Local consumers in developing countries are generally believed to be too poor to pay a premium for green/ethical products. Therefore, little information has been gathered on willingness-to-pay (WTP) for such products and its determinants in non-affluent consumer markets. While our experiment on firewood consumption in central Guatemala only implies a weak and indirect test of WTP for green products, the results indicate that it is premature, if not unwarranted, to assume that the poor are not ready to make pro-ethical choices in the marketplace. Moreover, we find that information on the legal procedures for firewood extraction significantly affects consumer choice between legal and illegal firewood.
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