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The role of social influence in crop residue management: Evidence from Northern India

Adrian A. Lopes, Ajalavat Viriyavipart () and Dina Tasneem

Ecological Economics, 2020, vol. 169, issue C

Abstract: Postharvest crop residue burning, which is associated with negative environmental and health outcomes, has become a major public policy concern in developing countries. We use original survey data from 1230 rice farmers in Northern India to analyze the factors influencing crop residue management practices. Results indicate that herd behavior is a significant determinant of residue burning, wherein a farmer is socially influenced to choose burning as the residue management technique because he believes all other farmers commonly practice it. We find that farmers who perceive residue burning as diminishing soil quality are far less likely to do so; however, their awareness of its adverse environmental effects does not lower the choice to burn. We infer that farmers account for private costs and benefits of burning but ignore its external social costs. We also control for socio-economic factors and find that farmer’s wealth increases the likelihood of residue burning. Identifying the behavioral factors behind residue burning, which capture underlying aspects of social influence and herd behavior is useful for policy aimed at reducing this public health hazard.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.106563

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