Determinants of pro-environmental consumption: The role of reference groups and routine behavior
This paper investigates the determinants of pro-environmental consumption, focusing on the role of reference groups and routine behavior. We study the factors that explain whether or not people have installed residential solar energy equipment or have subscribed to green-electricity programs, and the factors that influence the intensity of buying organic food. In addition to demographic characteristics and environmental attitudes, we consider the following categories of determinants: economic and cognitive factors (income, estimated price premium, level of information on environmentally-friendly goods); consumption patterns of reference persons; own consumption patterns in the past. Using a unique data set from a survey conducted in the region of Hanover, Germany, we find the following: (1) Economic and cognitive factors are significant covariates of all three kinds of pro-environmental consumption. Their influence is greatest in the case of green electricity. (2) Consumption patterns of reference persons are significant covariates of all three kinds of pro-environmental consumption. Their influence is greatest in the case of organic food. (3) The intensity of buying organic food is greater the longer people have been consumers of these goods.
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