Conservation: From Voluntary Restraint to a Voluntary Price Premium
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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.
KeywordsConservation behavior Electricity demand Renewable energy
JEL ClassificationsD1 Q4 Q5
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