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The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (Revision of CentER DP 2013-018)

Listed author(s):
  • Dur, R.
  • Vollaard, B.A.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

Abstract: Field-experimental studies have shown that people litter more in more littered environments.Inspired by these findings, many cities around the world have adopted policies to quickly remove litter. While such policies may avoid that people follow the bad example of litterers, they may also invite free-riding on public cleaning services. We are the first to show that both forces are at play. We conduct a natural field experiment where, in a randomly assigned part of a residential area, the frequency of cleaning was drastically reduced during a threemonth period. We find evidence that some people start to clean up after themselves when public cleaning services are diminished. However, the tendency to litter more dominates. We also find evidence for persistency in these responses after the treatment has ended.

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File URL: https://pure.uvt.nl/portal/files/1525952/2013-037.pdf
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Paper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2013-037.

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Date of creation: 2013
Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:05a8bfd3-2cbb-40e3-adc1-c666010173eb
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://center.uvt.nl

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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1019-1055.
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  5. Jen Shang & Rachel Croson, 2009. "A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1422-1439, October.
  6. Nyborg, Karine & Rege, Mari, 2003. "Does Public Policy Crowd Out Private Contributions to Public Goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 115(3-4), pages 397-418, June.
  7. Martin, Richard & Randal, John, 2008. "How is donation behaviour affected by the donations of others?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 228-238, July.
  8. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
  9. Christoph Engel & Sebastian Kube & Michael Kurschilgen, 2011. "Can we manage first impressions in cooperation problems? An experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2011_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised May 2014.
  10. Gerlinde Fellner & Rupert Sausgruber & Christian Traxler, 2013. "Testing Enforcement Strategies In The Field: Threat, Moral Appeal And Social Information," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 634-660, June.
  11. Anderson, Siwan & Francois, Patrick, 1997. "Environmental Cleanliness as a Public Good: Welfare and Policy Implications of Nonconvex Preferences," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 256-274, November.
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