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Do economic preferences predict pro-environmental behaviour?

Leonhard K Lades, Kate Laffan and Till O Weber
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Leonhard K Lades: UCD Environmental Policy & Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin
Kate Laffan: UCD School of Economics & Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin
Till O Weber: Newcastle University Business School, Newcastle University

No 202003, Working Papers from Geary Institute, University College Dublin

Abstract: Understanding the determinants of pro-environmental behaviour is key to address many environmental challenges. Economic theory and empirical evidence suggest that human behaviour is determined by peoples preferences over risk, time, and social consequences. As such, individual differences in these preferences should predict individual differences in pro-environmental behaviour. In a pre-registered study, we measure economic preferences in seven domains (risk taking, patience, present bias, altruism, positive reciprocity, negative reciprocity, and trust) and test whether these preferences predict pro-environmental behaviour in everyday life measured using the day reconstruction method. We find that only altruism is significantly associated with everyday pro-environmental behaviour. This suggests that people recognise everyday pro-environmental behaviours to be beneficial to others, but do not integrate the riskiness, inter-temporal structure, nor other social characteristics of pro-environmental behaviour into their decision-making. We also show in an exploratory analysis that different clusters of everyday pro-environmental behaviours are predicted by patience, positive reciprocity, and altruism, indicating that these considerations are relevant for some, but not other, pro-environmental behaviours.

Keywords: Time preferences; risk preferences; social preferences; pro-environmental behaviour; day reconstruction method (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 46 pages
Date: 2020-05-20
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-exp
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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