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American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 3 (May 2011)

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The Persistence of Treatment Effects with Norm-Based Policy Instruments: Evidence from a Randomized Environmental Policy Experiment

Article Citation

Ferraro, Paul J., Juan Jose Miranda, and Michael K. Price. 2011. "The Persistence of Treatment Effects with Norm-Based Policy Instruments: Evidence from a Randomized Environmental Policy Experiment." American Economic Review, 101(3): 318-22.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.3.318

Abstract

Policymakers increasingly use norm-based messages to promote conservation efforts. Despite the apparent success of such strategies, empirical analyses have thus far focused exclusively on short-run effects. From a policy perspective, however, whether and how such strategies influence behavior in the long-run is of equal interest. We partner with a metropolitan water utility to implement a natural field experiment examining the effect of such messages on longer-run patterns of water use. Empirical results are striking. While appeals to pro-social preferences affect short-run patterns of water use, only messages augmented with social comparisons have a lasting impact on water demand.

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Authors

Ferraro, Paul J. (GA State U)
Miranda, Juan Jose (GA State U)
Price, Michael K. (U TN)

JEL Classifications

D03: Behavioral Economics: Underlying Principles
D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification


American Economic Review


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