Job Market Paper
Changing consumption behavior with carbon labels: Causal evidence on behavioral channels and effectiveness
Best Paper Award, IAREP/SABE conference (second place)
Carbon labels are an increasingly popular policy tool to decrease the carbon footprint of consumers’ choices. However, not much is known about their effectiveness relative to other policy instruments and the channels via which they affect behavior. Through a series of experiments, including two framed field experiments (N = 289 and N = 444, respectively) and one natural field experiment (involving more than 120,000 purchase decisions by over 10,000 customers) conducted in a student canteen setting, I provide causal evidence that carbon labels impact consumption behavior. I evaluate the labels’ effectiveness in comparison to a carbon tax, both through direct elicitation (framed field experiment) and by using pricing variations (natural field experiment). In both settings, I find that the overall effectiveness of the labels is similar to that of a carbon tax of €120 per tonne. Further, complementary evidence from both settings conveys that the labels on average create psychological benefits for consumers. In the second framed field experiment, I identify the behavioral channels driving label effectiveness by varying treatment conditions. I find that carbon labels mainly impact consumers by directing attention towards carbon emissions, and less by correcting consumers’ perceptions about carbon footprints. Using a structural model and data from the second framed field experiment, I estimate that carbon labels on average increase consumer welfare.
NBER Working Paper 31845
We compare the behavior and welfare effects of two popular interventions for resource conservation. The first intervention is social comparison reports (SC), which primarily provides consumers with information motivating behavioral change. The second intervention is real-time feedback (RTF), which primarily provides consumers with information facilitating behavioral change. In a field experiment with around 1,000 participants, we directly observe the interventions’ effects on participants’ behavior. Further, we elicit participants’ willingness to pay for receiving the interventions, both before and after having experienced them for one month. We find that SC leads to a reduction in water use per shower by 9.4%, RTF by 28.8%, and the combination (BOTH) by 35.0%. Our willingness to pay results show that all interventions are highly valued by participants and that willingness to pay for RTF and BOTH is significantly higher than for SC. Furthermore, we find that the valuation of the interventions barely changes after a one-month experience. Our results suggest that while both interventions improve welfare, providing consumers with information facilitating behavioral change achieves a higher impact and a slightly higher welfare increase than providing consumers with information motivating behavioral change.
Work in Progress
The power of habit and social norms: Persistence effects of an intervention to decrease meat consumption | with Charlotte Klatt
Interventions to decrease meat consumption are often only implemented for a short period of time, and it is unclear whether they have lasting effects. Prominent reasons why effects might last could be (1) habit formation, (2) learning about the quality of vegetarian alternatives, or (3) a change in social norms with respect to meat consumption. However, we lack evidence whether either of these three factors in fact lead to the persistence of effects. We conduct a field experiment in the student canteen context (N>10000), and estimate the post-intervention effects of a one-month intervention in one of the student canteens. The intervention consisted of the complete elimination of all meat meals from the restaurant menu. Auxiliary survey data (N>800) allows for a difference-in-difference evaluation of a possible change in social norms induced by the intervention. The surveys additionally elicit self-reported reasons for behavioral change (habit formation, learning about meals, or social norms). The survey data will be combined with student canteen consumption data at the individual level, such that the self-reported reasons for behavioral change can be connected to changes in the individual’s consumption behavior.
In a laboratory experiment, we study the effect of acute and chronic stress on individual risk-taking behavior. We exogenously induce acute stress using the Trier Social Stress Test for Groups developed by von Dawans, Kirschbaum, and Heinrichs (2011). We measure subjects' acute stress by their heart rate, saliva cortisol levels, and their chronic stress by their hair cortisol levels. We elicit the subjects' risk-taking tendency by using randomized lottery pairs. Employing a within-subject design, i.e., eliciting each subject's risk-taking propensity both with and without the exogeneous acute stress, we aim to shed light on individuals' heterogeneous responses to acute stress in terms of risk-taking. It thereby contributes to the inconclusive literature on the causal effect of acute stress on risk-taking.
|2022||Behavioral Economics (Lecturer, Undergraduate) | University of Bonn|
|2021–22||Introduction to Microeconomics (Teaching assistant, Undergraduate) | University of Bonn|