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Households' switching behavior between electricity suppliers in Sweden

Listed author(s):
  • Ek, Kristina
  • Söderholm, Patrik

The overall purpose of this paper is to analyze the factors affecting households' decisions to: (a) switch to a new electricity supplier; and (b) actively renegotiate the electricity contract with the prevailing supplier. The study is based on 536 survey responses from Swedish households and they are analyzed econometrically using probit regression techniques. The analysis is based on a theoretical framework, which embraces both economic and psychological motives behind household decision-making. The results show that households that anticipate significant economic benefits from choosing a more active behavior are also more likely to purse this, while those with smaller potential gains (e.g., households without electric heating) are less likely to change supplier and/or renegotiate their contracts. The impact of overall electricity costs and knowledge about these is particularly important for the latter decision, while respondents that perceive relatively high search and information costs are less likely to switch to an alternative electricity supplier. Moreover, constraints on time, attention, and the ability to process information, may lead to optimizing analyses being replaced by imprecise routines and rules of thumb, and the benefits of the status quo appear to represent one of those simplifying rules. This also opens up for other influences on households' activity such as social interaction and media discourses that raise the attention level. Our results show that these influences are more likely to affect households' choice to switch to new service providers, i.e., the one area of the two investigated here that put the most demand on people's ability to search for and process information.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0957-1787(08)00039-8
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Utilities Policy.

Volume (Year): 16 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 254-261

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Handle: RePEc:eee:juipol:v:16:y:2008:i:4:p:254-261
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/30478

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  1. Fredrik Carlsson & Åsa Lofgren, 2006. "Airline choice, switching costs and frequent flyer programmes," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(13), pages 1469-1475.
  2. Geoff Riddington & Colin Sinclair & Nicola Milne, 2000. "Modelling choice and switching behaviour between Scottish ski centres," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(8), pages 1011-1018.
  3. Biel, Anders & Thogersen, John, 2007. "Activation of social norms in social dilemmas: A review of the evidence and reflections on the implications for environmental behaviour," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 93-112, January.
  4. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
  5. Brennan, Timothy J., 2007. "Consumer preference not to choose: Methodological and policy implications," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 1616-1627, March.
  6. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  7. Foss, Nicolai J., 2003. "Bounded rationality in the economics of organization: "Much cited and little used"," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 245-264, April.
  8. Juliusson, E. Asgeir & Gamble, Amelie & Garling, Tommy, 2007. "Loss aversion and price volatility as determinants of attitude towards and preference for variable price in the Swedish electricity market," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 5953-5957, November.
  9. Amundsen, Eirik S. & Bergman, Lars, 2006. "Why has the Nordic electricity market worked so well?," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 148-157, September.
  10. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. "Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
  11. Thaler, Richard, 1980. "Toward a positive theory of consumer choice," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 39-60, March.
  12. Monica Giulietti & Catherine Waddams Price & Michael Waterson, 2005. "Consumer Choice and Competition Policy: a Study of UK Energy Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 949-968, October.
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