Conservation: From Voluntary Restraint to a Voluntary Price Premium

Matthew Kotchen, Michael Moore

NBER Working Paper No. 13678
Issued in December 2007
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics, Public Economics

This paper investigates how concern for the environment translates into predictable patterns of consumer behavior. Two types of behavior are considered. First, individuals who care about environmental quality may voluntarily restrain their consumption of goods and services that generate a negative externality. Second, individuals may choose to pay a price premium for goods and services that are more environmentally benign. A theoretical model identifies a symmetry between such voluntary restraint and a voluntary price premium that mirrors the symmetry between environmental policies based on either quantities (quotas) or prices (taxes). We test predictions of the model in an empirical study of household electricity consumption with introduction of a price-premium, green-electricity program. We find evidence of voluntary restraint and its relation to a voluntary price premium. The empirical results are consistent with the theoretical model of voluntary conservation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13678

Published: Matthew Kotchen & Michael Moore, 2008. "Conservation: From Voluntary Restraint to a Voluntary Price Premium," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 40(2), pages 195-215, June. citation courtesy of

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