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Can Information Reduce Nonpayment for Public Utilities? Experimental Evidence from South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Andrea Szabo

    () (University of Houston)

  • Gergely Ujhelyi

    () (University of Houston)

Abstract

Nonpayment for public utilities is an important constraint to expanding service access in developing countries. As a potential policy response, this study implements and evaluates a randomized water education campaign in a low income peri-urban area in South Africa. We estimate substantial treatment effects: on the order of a 30% increase in payments over a three-month period. Surprisingly, these effects are not driven by an increase in households’ knowledge. We consider various possible explanations, and argue that the intervention likely had "nudging" effects on households. Our findings have important implications for understanding energy conservation and other public information campaigns.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Szabo & Gergely Ujhelyi, 2014. "Can Information Reduce Nonpayment for Public Utilities? Experimental Evidence from South Africa," Working Papers 2014-114-31, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
  • Handle: RePEc:hou:wpaper:2014-114-31
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Miguel Villa & Danilo Fernandes & Mariano Bosch, 2015. "Nudging the Self-employed into Contributing to Social Security: Evidence from a Nationwide Quasi Experiment in Brazil," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7313, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Juan Miguel Villa & Danilo Fernandes & Mariano Bosch, 2015. "Nudging the Self-employed into Contributing to Social Security: Evidence from a Nationwide Quasi Experiment in Brazil," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 91877, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    nonpayment; information; water conservation;

    JEL classification:

    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • H27 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Other Sources of Revenue
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities

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