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Can Indifference Make the World Greener?

Author

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  • Egebark, Johan

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Ekström, Mathias

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

Abstract

We test whether people's tendency to stick with the default option can help save resources. In a natural field experiment we switch printers' default settings, from simplex to duplex printing, at a large Swedish university. The results confirm that roughly one third of all printing is determined by the default alternative, and hence daily paper consumption drops by 15 percent due to the change. The effect is immediate, lasts throughout the experimental period, and remains intact after six months. We also investigate how the more conventional method of encouraging people to save resources performs, and find it has no impact. Recent theoretical and empirical contributions indicate that the default effect works through recommendation, depends positively on the number of alternatives in the choice set, and is reinforced for difficult decisions. We demonstrate that the default option matter in a simple, non-dynamic, decision task with only two alternatives, and where people have been explicitly informed about the recommended course of action.

Suggested Citation

  • Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2013. "Can Indifference Make the World Greener?," Research Papers in Economics 2013:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2013_0012
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Schubert, Christian, 2017. "Green nudges: Do they work? Are they ethical?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 329-342.
    2. Sunstein, Cass R., 2016. "Fifty Shades of Manipulation," Journal of Marketing Behavior, now publishers, vol. 1(3-4), pages 213-244, February.
    3. Benjamin Ouvrard & Sandrine Spaeter, 2016. "Environmental Incentives: Nudge or Tax?," Working Papers of BETA 2016-23, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    4. Benjamin Ouvrard & Anne Stenger, 2017. "Nudging with heterogeneity in terms of environmental sensitivity : a public goods experiment in networks," Working Papers of BETA 2017-36, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    5. Bertoni, M.; Corazzini, L.; Robone, S.;, 2017. "The Good Outcomes of Bad News. A Randomized Field Experiment on Formatting Breast Cancer Screening Invitations," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 17/27, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    6. Kene Boun My & Benjamin Ouvrard, 2017. "Nudge and Tax in an Environmental Public Goods Experiment: Does Environmental Sensitivity Matter?," Working Papers of BETA 2017-06, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
    7. Gabriela Michalek & Georg Meran & Reimund Schwarze & Özgür Yildiz, 2015. "Nudging as a new 'soft' tool in environmental policy. An analysis based on insights from cognitive and social psychology," Discussion Paper Series RECAP15 21, RECAP15, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder).
    8. Benjamin Ouvrard & Sandrine Spaeter, 2016. "Environmental Incentives: Nudge or Tax?," Working Papers 2016.15, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    9. Kurz, Verena, 2017. "Nudging to reduce meat consumption: Immediate and persistent effects of an intervention at a university restaurant," Working Papers in Economics 712, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Default option; Resource Conservation; Natural Field Experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General

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