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It Wasn't Me! Visibility and Free Riding in Waste Sorting

Author

Listed:
  • Alessandro Bucciol

    (Department of Economics, University of Verona)

  • Natalia Montinari

    (University of Lund, School of Economics)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Department of Economics, Copenhagen University)

  • Jean-Robert Tyran

Abstract

Free riding problems can be more severe in multiple-person social dilemmas than in two-person dilemmas, since agents can hide their actions behind the veil of anonymity. In this paper, we use field data on waste sorting to study the effect of visibility in social dilemmas. We compare the sorting behavior of households sharing (or not) their bin for unsorted waste. Since households have to pay a fee proportional to their unsorted waste production, sharing the bin means sharing the fee. We find that, on average, household unsorted waste production is higher if three or more households share the same bin. Surprisingly, when only two households share the same bin, and therefore the household sorting behavior can be identified, unsorted waste production decreases compared to users not sharing the bin. Our interpretation is that shame and fear of punishment may play a role between the two sharing users.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Bucciol & Natalia Montinari & Marco Piovesan & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2014. "It Wasn't Me! Visibility and Free Riding in Waste Sorting," Discussion Papers 14-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1412
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Dilemmas; Free Riding; Visibility; Waste Management;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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