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Perceived price in residential water demand: Evidence from a natural experiment

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  • Wichman, Casey J.

Abstract

Under complicated billing structures, the price to which consumers respond remains inconclusive. In this paper, I exploit a quasi-experiment to estimate a causal effect of price for residential water customers during the introduction of increasing block rates for a North Carolina utility. Perceived price is identified through a billing anomaly in which changes in marginal and average prices move in opposite directions. Empirical results contribute evidence that residential water customers respond to average price. Average price elasticity estimates vary from −0.43 to −1.14 across the distribution of consumption in triple-difference models, with an estimate of −0.31 in the tightest bandwidth of regression discontinuity specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Wichman, Casey J., 2014. "Perceived price in residential water demand: Evidence from a natural experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 308-323.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:107:y:2014:i:pa:p:308-323
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.02.017
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Henry S. Foster, Jr. & Bruce R. Beattie, 1981. "On the Specification of Price in Studies of Consumer Demand under Block Price Scheduling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 57(4), pages 624-629.
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    13. Wichman, Casey J. & Taylor, Laura O. & von Haefen, Roger H., 2016. "Conservation policies: Who responds to price and who responds to prescription?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 114-134.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Wichman, Casey J. & Taylor, Laura O. & von Haefen, Roger H., 2016. "Conservation policies: Who responds to price and who responds to prescription?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 114-134.
    2. repec:wsi:wepxxx:v:03:y:2017:i:01:n:s2382624x16800072 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Daniel A. Brent & Corey Lott & Michael Taylor & Joseph Cook & Kim Rollins & Shawn Stoddard, 2017. "Are Normative Appeals Moral Taxes? Evidence from a Field Experiment on Water Conservation," Departmental Working Papers 2017-07, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    4. repec:now:jirere:101.00000084 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Wichman, Casey J., 2017. "Information provision and consumer behavior: A natural experiment in billing frequency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 13-33.
    6. Daniel A. Brent, 2016. "Estimating Water Demand Elasticity at the Intensive and Extensive Margin," Departmental Working Papers 2016-06, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    7. Zhang, Zibin & Cai, Wenxin & Feng, Xiangzhao, 2017. "How do urban households in China respond to increasing block pricing in electricity? Evidence from a fuzzy regression discontinuity approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 161-172.
    8. René Cabral & Luciano Ayala & Victor Hugo Delgado, 2017. "Residential Water Demand and Price Perception under Increasing Block Rates," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 37(1), pages 508-519.
    9. Brent, Daniel A. & Friesen, Lana & Gangadharan, Lata & Leibbrandt, Andreas, 2017. "Behavioral Insights from Field Experiments in Environmental Economics," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 10(2), pages 95-143, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Water demand; Price elasticity; Difference-in-difference-in-difference; Regression discontinuity; Perceived price;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods

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