Nudges, Social Norms and Permanence in Agri-Environmental Schemes
Agri-environmental schemes (AES), implemented to address a wide range of environmental issues, suffer from what has been referred to as the “end of the contract problem”, in the sense that many of the land management practices adopted under the scheme cannot be expected to persist in the absence of payments. A first objective of this paper is therefore to investigate farmers’ actual land management intentions at the end of AES contracts. The second objective is to investigate the effect of social norms, and framing of these norms, on the likely permanence of land management practices adopted under AES. That is, we are interested in whether a “nudge” in the form of a social norm can help solve the end of contract problem. Our results are based on the stated intentions of 395 farmers participating in the French AES scheme MAEt. They show that almost half of the farmers of our sample are willing to maintain the practices adopted during the AES even in the absence of payments after the contract ends, and that information about what other farmers intend to do – the social norm - can greatly influence farmers’ decisions. However, the framing of this information has no significant effect on stated intentions.
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