Voluntary information programs and environmental regulation: Evidence from 'Spare the Air'
This paper assesses whether individuals change their transportation choices in response to 'Spare the Air' (STA) advisories, a public voluntary information program in the San Francisco Bay Area that elicits reductions in ozone-producing activities. Since STAs are issued when ozone levels are predicted to exceed a particular threshold, we use a regression discontinuity design to identify the effect of STAs. We also use traffic conditions in Southern California, an area without STAs, to estimate difference-in-differences models. The results suggest that STAs reduce traffic volume and slightly increase the use of public transit, supporting a potential role for voluntary information programs that directly target individuals as a means for improving local air quality.
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