Food waste as a (negative) measure of social capital. A study across Italian Provinces
Simone Piras (),
Francesca Pancotto (),
Simone Righi (),
Matteo Vittuari () and
Marco Setti ()
Center for the Analysis of Public Policies (CAPP) from Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi"
Household food waste is a crucial problem in developed countries. Food waste behaviour is the result of complex interactions among economic factors, deeply rooted habits, and social norms. It can thus be considered a measure of the social capital characterizing a community. We test this hypothesis using a national-level dataset on household food-related behaviours and opinions in Italy gathered in 2016. This country is an ideal test bed for a comparative analysis on social capital. We find household food waste measures to be negatively related with the local level of social capital. This relationship is mediated by family income, as it becomes weaker for better-o families. Furthermore, we find that behaviours and opinions eliciting status concerns with respect to food, as well as lack of organisational abilities, generate increased food waste. In turn, these behaviours and opinions are more prevalent in areas with low social capital. Our results, captured by a simple model where food waste decisions are considered in the context of a modified public good game, allow to derive several policy implications for the reduction of food waste.
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