IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/23553.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Default Effects and Follow-On Behavior: Evidence from an Electricity Pricing Program

Author

Listed:
  • Meredith Fowlie
  • Catherine Wolfram
  • C. Anna Spurlock
  • Annika Todd
  • Patrick Baylis
  • Peter Cappers

Abstract

We study default effects in the context of a residential electricity pricing program. We implement a large-scale randomized controlled trial in which one treatment group is given the option to opt-in to time-based pricing while another is defaulted into the program but allowed to opt-out. We provide dramatic evidence of a default effect – a significantly higher fraction of households defaulted onto the time-based pricing plan enroll in the program, even though opting out simply involved making a phone call or clicking through to a website. A distinguishing feature of our empirical setting is that we observe follow-on behavior subsequent to the default manipulation. Specifically, we observe customers’ electricity consumption in light of the pricing plan they face. This, in conjunction with randomization of the default provision, allows us to separately identify the electricity consumption response of “complacent” households (i.e., those who only enroll in time-based pricing if assigned to the opt-out treatment). We find that the complacent households do reduce electricity use during higher priced peak periods, though significantly less on average compared to customers who actively opt in. However, with complacents comprising approximately 75 percent of the population, we observe significantly larger average demand reductions among consumers assigned to the opt-out group. We examine the extent to which the behavioral responses we observe are consistent with a standard model of switching costs, or with alternative mechanisms including inattention, and preferences constructed based on contextual features of the choice setting.

Suggested Citation

  • Meredith Fowlie & Catherine Wolfram & C. Anna Spurlock & Annika Todd & Patrick Baylis & Peter Cappers, 2017. "Default Effects and Follow-On Behavior: Evidence from an Electricity Pricing Program," NBER Working Papers 23553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23553
    Note: EEE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23553.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Abadie, Alberto & Gay, Sebastien, 2006. "The impact of presumed consent legislation on cadaveric organ donation: A cross-country study," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 599-620, July.
    2. Benjamin R. Handel & Jonathan T. Kolstad, 2015. "Health Insurance for "Humans": Information Frictions, Plan Choice, and Consumer Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2449-2500, August.
    3. James M. Sallee, 2014. "Rational Inattention and Energy Efficiency," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(3), pages 781-820.
    4. Gabriel D. Carroll & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Optimal Defaults and Active Decisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1639-1674.
    5. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 469-493, Autumn.
    6. Jonathan D. Ketcham & Nicolai V. Kuminoff & Christopher A. Powers, 2016. "Estimating the Heterogeneous Welfare Effects of Choice Architecture: An Application to the Medicare Prescription Drug Insurance Market," NBER Working Papers 22732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Johnson, Eric J & Hershey, John & Meszaros, Jacqueline & Kunreuther, Howard, 1993. "Framing, Probability Distortions, and Insurance Decisions," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 35-51, August.
    8. B. Douglas Bernheim & Andrey Fradkin & Igor Popov, 2015. "The Welfare Economics of Default Options in 401(k) Plans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(9), pages 2798-2837, September.
    9. Benjamin R. Handel, 2013. "Adverse Selection and Inertia in Health Insurance Markets: When Nudging Hurts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2643-2682, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:enepol:v:118:y:2018:i:c:p:88-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Carmine Ornaghi & Mirco Tonin, 2018. "Water Tariffs and Consumers' Inaction," CESifo Working Paper Series 6990, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Janusch, Nicholas & Palm-Forster, Leah H. & Messer, Kent D. & Ferraro, Paul J., 2017. "Behavioral Insights for Agri-Environmental Program and Policy Design," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 266299, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23553. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.