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Research to manage the Environment for Development

Recent publications


How Costly are License Plate-Based Driving Restrictions? Contingent Valuation Evidence from Beijing

A common policy response to severe air pollution and traffic congestion in developing country megacities is to ban the driving of vehicles with license plates ending in certain numbers on certain days. We use the contingent valuation method to estimate the costs to drivers of Beijing’s driving restrictions program, one of the world’s largest. Our study generates three main findings.


How much is too much? Individual biodiversity conservation.

The individual farmer in a developing country has little incentive to care about the public good properties of on-farm biodiversity in the form of different crop varieties. There is a common assumption that, because of this, farmers will tend to maintain too little biodiversity on their farms.


Why (field) experiments on unethical behavior are important: Comparing stated and revealed behavior

Understanding unethical behavior is essential to many phenomena in the real world. We carry out a field experiment in a unique setting that varies the levels of reciprocity and guilt in an ethical decision. A survey more than one year before the field experiment allows us to compare at the individual level stated unethical behavior with revealed behavior in the same situation in the field. Our results indicate a strong discrepancy between stated and revealed behavior, regardless of the specific treatment in the field experiment.


The power of nudging: Using feedback, competition and responsibility assignment to save electricity in a non-residential setting

We use behavioural insights to design nudges, leveraging social comparison and assignment of responsibility, aimed at reducing electricity consumption in a large provincial government office building with 24 floors, a total of 1008 occupants. Results from a randomized control trial show that floors participating in a treatment with inter-floor competitions and tips reduced energy consumption by 9%, while those that also included floor-wise “energy advocates” reduced energy consumption by 14% over a period of 5 months.


Policy design for the Anthropocene

Today, more than ever, ‘Spaceship Earth’ is an apt metaphor as we chart the boundaries for a safe planet. Social scientists both ​analyse why society courts disaster by approaching or even overstepping these boundaries and try to design suitable policies to avoid these perils. Because the threats of transgressing planetary boundaries are global, long-run, uncertain and intercon-nected, they must be analysed together to avoid conflicts and take advantage of synergies.


The Shale Gas Boom in the US: Productivity Shocks and Price Responsiveness

The shale gas boom in the United States has been reforming the world energy market. The supply response of shale gas to productivity shocks and relative price changes, however, has not been adequately studied. We analyze the change in price responsiveness of shale gas drilling using well-level data covering all major producing reservoirs in the United States. Shale gas drilling becomes more responsive to energy prices after the major productivity shock in 2009.


    Social Norms and Energy Conservation Beyond the US

    The seminal studies by Allcott and Mullainathan (2010), Allcott (2011), and Allcott and Rogers (2014) show that social comparison-based home energy reports (HER) are a cost-effective climate policy intervention in the US. Our paper demonstrates the context-dependency of this result. In most industrialized countries, average electricity consumption and carbon intensity are well below US levels. Consequently, HER interventions can only become cost-effective if treatment effect


    The Impact of Multiple Climate Smart Practices on Gender Differentiated Nutrition Outcomes: Panel Data Evidence from Ethiopia

    Since the beginning of the decade, climate resilient green economy strategies have been proposed in many African countries. One of the pillars of the strategies is the adoption and diffusion of various climate smart agricultural practices for improving crop and livestock production and farmer income while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The effects of these innovations on household nutritional security, including gender-differentiated nutritional status, have hardly been analyzed.


    Cost of Power Outages for Manufacturing Firms in Ethiopia:A Stated Preference Study

    Having a reliable supply of electricity is essential for the operation of any firm. In most developing countries, however, electricity supply is highly unreliable. In this study, we estimate the cost of power outages for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, using a stated preference survey. We find that the willingness to pay, and thus the cost of power outages, is substantial. The estimated willingness to pay for a reduction of one power outage corresponds to a tariff increase of 16 percent.


    Measuring Trust in Institutions

    In empirical studies, survey questions are typically used to measure trust; trust games are also used to measure interpersonal trust. In this paper, we measure trust in different institutions by using both trust games and survey questions. We find that generalized trust is only weakly correlated with trust in specific institutions, when elicited both by using a trust game and by using survey questions. However, the correlation between trust in a specific institution elicited through a trust game and stated trust for the same institution is stronger and statistically significant.