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Do The Effects of Social Nudges Persist? Theory and Evidence from 38 Natural Field Experiments

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  • Alec Brandon
  • Paul J. Ferraro
  • John A. List
  • Robert D. Metcalfe
  • Michael K. Price
  • Florian Rundhammer

Abstract

This study examines the mechanisms underlying long-run reductions in energy consumption caused by a widely studied social nudge. Our investigation considers two channels: physical capital in the home and habit formation in the household. Using data from 38 natural field experiments, we isolate the role of physical capital by comparing treatment and control homes after the original household moves, which ends treatment. We find 35 to 55 percent of the reductions persist once treatment ends and show this is consonant with the physical capital channel. Methodologically, our findings have important implications for the design and assessment of behavioral interventions.

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  • Alec Brandon & Paul J. Ferraro & John A. List & Robert D. Metcalfe & Michael K. Price & Florian Rundhammer, 2017. "Do The Effects of Social Nudges Persist? Theory and Evidence from 38 Natural Field Experiments," NBER Working Papers 23277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23277 Note: EEE IO PE
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    Cited by:

    1. Andor, Mark Andreas & Gerster, Andreas & Peters, Jörg & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2017. "Social norms and energy conservation beyond the US," Ruhr Economic Papers 714, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Daniel A. Brent & Corey Lott & Michael Taylor & Joseph Cook & Kim Rollins & Shawn Stoddard, 2017. "Are Normative Appeals Moral Taxes? Evidence from a Field Experiment on Water Conservation," Departmental Working Papers 2017-07, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    3. 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

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy

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