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Take me with you! Economic Incentives, Nudging Interventions and Reusable Shopping Bags: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial


  • Armenak Antinyan

    (Wenlan School of Business, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, China)

  • Luca Corazzini

    (Department of Economics and VERA, University Of Venice CÃ Foscari)


Little is known about the impact of policy interventions other than taxes and bans to reduce the demand for single use plastic bags. More specifically, the influence of environmental nudges and financial bonuses to curb the single use plastic bag purchase and consumption is largely understudied. To fill this gap, we run an RCT with loyalty card holders of one of the biggest supermarket chains in Yerevan (Armenia) to test and compare interventions based on environmental nudges and financial bonuses. We manipulate the type of the intervention – either a financial bonus or a nudge –, the presence of a reusable bag – either provided for free or not provided –, and the size of the bag – either small or big. Compared with the baseline setting with no intervention, both the financial bonus and the environmental nudge serve as effective policy instruments to reduce disposable plastic bag purchase. Moreover, reusable bags in combination with the environmental nudge or the financial bonus are more effective than the environmental nudge or the financial bonus alone. Finally, the financial bonus is substantially more effective than the environmental nudge, irrespective of the absence/presence of reusable bags.

Suggested Citation

  • Armenak Antinyan & Luca Corazzini, 2021. "Take me with you! Economic Incentives, Nudging Interventions and Reusable Shopping Bags: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Working Papers 2021:08, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2021:08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cabrera, José María & Caffera, Marcelo & Cid, Alejandro, 2020. "Small Incentives May Have Large Effects: The Impact of Prices on the Demand for Plastic Bags," MPRA Paper 100178, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Mascagni, Giulia & Nell, Christopher & Monkam, Nara, 2017. "One Size Does Not Fit All: A Field Experiment on the Drivers of Tax Compliance and Delivery Methods in Rwanda," Working Papers 12838, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.
    3. Rachel Glennerster & Kudzai Takavarasha, 2013. "Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10085.
    4. Mitesh S. Patel, 2018. "Nudges for influenza vaccination," Nature Human Behaviour, Nature, vol. 2(10), pages 720-721, October.
    5. Cass Sunstein, 2014. "Nudging: A Very Short Guide," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 583-588, December.
    6. Tatiana A. Homonoff, 2018. "Can Small Incentives Have Large Effects? The Impact of Taxes versus Bonuses on Disposable Bag Use," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 177-210, November.
    7. Koichiro Ito & Takanori Ida & Makoto Tanaka, 2018. "Moral Suasion and Economic Incentives: Field Experimental Evidence from Energy Demand," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 240-267, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cabrera, José María & Caffera, Marcelo & Cid, Alejandro, 2021. "Modest and incomplete incentives may work: Pricing plastic bags in Uruguay," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 110(C).

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    More about this item


    Pro-environmental behavior; nudge; financial bonus; reusable plastic bag; randomized controlled trial;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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