Uncertainty, loss aversion, and markets for energy efficiency
Increasing energy efficiency is critical to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel combustion, reducing oil dependence, and achieving a sustainable global energy system. The tendency of markets to neglect apparently cost-effective energy efficiency options has been called the "efficiency gap" or "energy paradox." The market for energy efficiency in new, energy-using durable goods, however, appears to have a bias that leads to undervaluation of future energy savings relative to their expected value. This paper argues that the bias is chiefly produced by the combination of substantial uncertainty about the net value of future fuel savings and the loss aversion of typical consumers. This framework relies on the theory of context-dependent preferences. The uncertainty-loss aversion bias against energy efficiency is quantifiable, making it potentially correctible by policy measures. The welfare economics of such policies remains unresolved. Data on the costs of increased fuel economy of new passenger cars, taken from a National Research Council study, illustrate how an apparently cost-effective increase in energy efficiency would be uninteresting to loss-averse consumers.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H, 1995.
"Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92, February.
- Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1993. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 4369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Liutang Gong & William Smith & Heng-fu Zou, 2007.
"Consumption and Risk with hyperbolic discounting,"
CEMA Working Papers
491, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
- S. Dellavigna., 2011.
"Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field,"
N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
- S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 5.
- Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-72, June.
- Molly Espey & Santosh Nair, 2005.
"Automobile Fuel Economy: What Is It Worth?,"
Contemporary Economic Policy,
Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(3), pages 317-323, 07.
- Arrow, Kenneth J & Lind, Robert C, 1970. "Uncertainty and the Evaluation of Public Investment Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 364-78, June.
- Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
- Nicholas Stern, 2008. "The Economics of Climate Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 1-37, May.
- Matthew Rabin, 2006.
"A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165, November.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 0407001, EconWPA.
- Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2005. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000341, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- David Gal, 2006. "A psychological law of inertia and the illusion of loss aversion," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 23-32, July.
- Richard B. Howarth & Alan H. Sanstad, 1995. "Discount Rates And Energy Efficiency," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(3), pages 101-109, 07.
- Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1995. "Product Differentiation and Oligopoly in International Markets: The Case of the U.S. Automobile Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 891-951, July.
- Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 1994. "The energy-efficiency gap What does it mean?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 804-810, October.
- Bjornstad, David J. & McKee, Michael, 2006. "Making enduring choices: Uncertainty and public policy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5-6), pages 667-676, November.
- repec:ema:worpap:2008-02 is not listed on IDEAS
- Hassett, Kevin A. & Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1993. "Energy conservation investment : Do consumers discount the future correctly?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 710-716, June.
- Daniel Kahneman & Jack L. Knetsch & Richard H. Thaler, 1991. "Anomalies: The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 193-206, Winter.
- Laibson, David, 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
- Amos Tversky & Itamar Simonson, 1993. "Context-Dependent Preferences," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(10), pages 1179-1189, October.
- Greene, David L. & Patterson, Philip D. & Singh, Margaret & Li, Jia, 2005. "Feebates, rebates and gas-guzzler taxes: a study of incentives for increased fuel economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 757-775, April.
- Turrentine, Thomas S. & Kurani, Kenneth S., 2007. "Car buyers and fuel economy?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1213-1223, February.
- Paul Diederen & Frank van Tongeren & Hennie van der Veen, 2003. "Returns on Investments in Energy-saving Technologies Under Energy Price Uncertainty in Dutch Greenhouse Horticulture," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 24(4), pages 379-394, April.
- Train, Kenneth, 1985. "Discount rates in consumers' energy-related decisions: A review of the literature," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 10(12), pages 1243-1253.
- Christopher Harris & David Laibson, 1999.
"Dynamic Choices of Hyperbolic Consumers,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1886, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Dreyfus, Mark K & Viscusi, W Kip, 1995. "Rates of Time Preference and Consumer Valuations of Automobile Safety and Fuel Efficiency," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 79-105, April.
- Jerry A. Hausman, 1979. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 33-54, Spring.
- Andre Palma & Moshe Ben-Akiva & David Brownstone & Charles Holt & Thierry Magnac & Daniel McFadden & Peter Moffatt & Nathalie Picard & Kenneth Train & Peter Wakker & Joan Walker, 2008. "Risk, uncertainty and discrete choice models," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 269-285, December.
- Carolyn Fischer & Winston Harrington & Ian W.H. Parry, 2007. "Should Automobile Fuel Economy Standards be Tightened?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 1-30.
- Turrentine, Tom & Kurani, Kenneth S, 2007. "Car buyers and fuel economy?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt56x845v4, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:33:y:2011:i:4:p:608-616. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.