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Clean up your own mess: An experimental study of moral responsibility and efficiency

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  • Jakob, Michael
  • Kübler, Dorothea
  • Steckel, Jan Christoph
  • van Veldhuizen, Roel

Abstract

Although market-based environmental policy instruments feature prominently in economic theory and are widely employed, they often face public resistance. We argue that such resistance may be driven by moral responsibility, where citizens prefer to tackle the environmental problems that they have caused by themselves, rather than delegating the task to others by means of a market mechanism. Using a laboratory experiment that isolates moral responsibility from alternative explanations, we show that moral responsibility induces participants to take inefficient actions that reduce the earnings of the whole group of participants. We discuss the implications of this finding for the design and implementation of environmental policies.

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  • Jakob, Michael & Kübler, Dorothea & Steckel, Jan Christoph & van Veldhuizen, Roel, 2017. "Clean up your own mess: An experimental study of moral responsibility and efficiency," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 138-146.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:155:y:2017:i:c:p:138-146
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.09.010
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    Cited by:

    1. Cabrales, Antonio & Kendall, Ryan & Sánchez, Angel, 2019. "Effective policies and social norms in the presence of driverless cars: Theory and experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 13784, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Laboratory experiment; Moral responsibility; Environmental policy; Market mechanism; Climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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