The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment In Household Garbage Disposal

TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2013-018

CentER Discussion Paper No. 2013-037

34 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2012 Last revised: 15 Jul 2013

Robert Dur

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics; Tinbergen Institute; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Ben Vollaard

CentER, Tilburg University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 10, 2013

Abstract

Field-experimental studies have shown that people litter more in more littered environments. Inspired by these findings, many cities around the world have adopted policies to quickly remove litter. While such policies may avoid that people follow the bad example of litterers, they may also invite free-riding on public cleaning services. We are the first to show that both forces are at play. We conduct a natural field experiment where, in a randomly assigned part of a residential area, the frequency of cleaning was drastically reduced during a threemonth period. We find evidence that some people start to clean up after themselves when public cleaning services are diminished. However, the tendency to litter more dominates. We also find evidence for persistency in these responses after the treatment has ended.

Keywords: littering, public services, free-riding, field experiment

JEL Classification: C93, H40, K42

Suggested Citation

Dur, Robert and Vollaard, Ben, The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment In Household Garbage Disposal (July 10, 2013). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2013-018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2100372 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2100372

Robert Dur (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Economics ( email )

FEW / H 8-15
P.O. Box 1738
Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
+31-10-4082159 (Phone)
+31-10-4089161 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://people.few.eur.nl/dur

Tinbergen Institute

Amsterdam/Rotterdam
Netherlands

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ben Vollaard

CentER, Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

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