Encouraging Conservation on Private Lands: A Behavioral Analysis of Financial Incentives

43 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2010

Date Written: 2006


This Article offers a behavioral analysis of conservation incentives on private land. Contrary to the hyperbole surrounding landowner incentives, financial rewards typically produce moderate, not dramatic, levels of behavioral change and are not immune from the problems of cost, monitoring, and enforcement that affect command and control regulation. Drawing from the behavioral research, I offer proposals for improving the efficacy of conservation incentives and reducing their enforcement costs. First, staggering payments in installments provides ongoing reinforcement and promotes longer-term maintenance of conservation behaviors. Despite research showing that behavior ends upon termination of an incentive, a number of conservation incentive programs offer all or most of their compensation upfront. Second, reducing excessive payments and emphasizing positive feedback safeguards intrinsic motivation. Third, increasing the resources devoted to recruitment and the sophistication of marketing strategies amplifies the effectiveness of incentives.

Keywords: Conservation Incentive Programs, Private Property, Command and Control Regulation

JEL Classification: K11, K32

Suggested Citation

Stern, Stephanie M., Encouraging Conservation on Private Lands: A Behavioral Analysis of Financial Incentives (2006). Arizona Law Review, Vol. 48, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1675046

Stephanie M. Stern (Contact Author)

Chicago-Kent College of Law ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States
312-906-5285 (Phone)

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