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Moral Behaviour, Altruism and Environmental Policy

Author

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  • Marc Daube

    () (University of St Andrews)

  • David Ulph

    () (University of St Andrews)

Abstract

Abstract Free-riding is often associated with self-interested behaviour. However, if there is a global pollutant, free-riding will arise if individuals calculate that their emissions are negligible relative to the total, so total emissions and hence any damage that they and others suffer will be unaffected by whatever consumption choice they make. In this context consumer behaviour and the optimal environmental tax are independent of the degree of altruism. For behaviour to change, individuals need to make their decisions in a different way. We propose a new theory of moral behaviour whereby individuals recognise that they will be worse off by not acting in their own self-interest, and balance this cost off against the hypothetical moral value of adopting a Kantian form of behaviour, that is by calculating the consequences of their action by asking what would happen if everyone else acted in the same way as they did. We show that: (a) if individuals behave this way, then altruism matters and the greater the degree of altruism the more individuals cut back their consumption of a ‘dirty’ good; (b) nevertheless the optimal environmental tax is exactly the same as that emerging from classical analysis where individuals act in self-interested fashion.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Daube & David Ulph, 2016. "Moral Behaviour, Altruism and Environmental Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 63(2), pages 505-522, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:63:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s10640-014-9836-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s10640-014-9836-2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. FIORILLO, Damiano & SENATORE, Luigi, 2016. "Self Image and Environmental Attitude and Behavior," CELPE Discussion Papers 140, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
    2. repec:kap:enreec:v:73:y:2019:i:4:d:10.1007_s10640-018-0287-z is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Benjamin Volland, 2018. "Après nous le déluge? Perceived distance of climate change impacts and pro-environmental behaviour," IRENE Working Papers 18-05, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Dina KASSAB, 2018. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Regulation: Taxing Ethical behaviour," Working Papers 2018.17, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

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