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The Lightbulb Paradox: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments

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  • Hunt Allcott
  • Dmitry Taubinsky

Abstract

Imperfect information and inattention to energy costs are important potential justifications for energy efficiency standards and subsidies. We evaluate these policies in the lightbulb market using a theoretical model and two randomized experiments. We derive welfare effects as functions of reduced-form sufficient statistics capturing economic and psychological parameters, which we estimate using a novel within-subject information disclosure experiment. In the context of the model, the main results suggest that moderate subsidies for energy efficient lightbulbs may increase welfare, but informational and attentional biases alone do not justify a ban on incandescent lightbulbs.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2013. "The Lightbulb Paradox: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments," NBER Working Papers 19713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19713 Note: EEE PE
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19713.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacob Goldin & Tatiana Homonoff, 2013. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 302-336, February.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. No need to ban incandescent lightbulbs
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2014-01-16 21:03:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lucas W. Davis & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2016. "Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, pages 589-625.
    2. Allcott, Hunt & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Taubinsky, Dmitry, 2014. "Energy policy with externalities and internalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 72-88.
    3. David Bradford & Charles Courtemanche & Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah & Christopher Ruhm, 2014. "Time Preferences and Consumer Behavior," NBER Working Papers 20320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sheila M. Olmstead & Hilary Sigman, 2015. "Damming the Commons: An Empirical Analysis of International Cooperation and Conflict in Dam Location," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 497-526.
    5. Hunt Allcott & Richard Sweeney, 2014. "The Role of Sales Agents in Information Disclosure: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 20048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jacobsen, Grant D., 2015. "Do energy prices influence investment in energy efficiency? Evidence from energy star appliances," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 94-106.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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