A Behavioral Approach to Water Conservation: Evidence from Costa Rica

29 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

Date Written: June 2, 2015

Abstract

This paper presents the design a set of three simple and replicable behavioral interventions, which use stickers that can be added to water bills at low cost, and test their impact on water consumption in Belen, Costa Rica, using a randomized control trial. Two of the three interventions were found to decrease water consumption significantly in the months following the intervention. A descriptive social norm intervention using neighborhood comparisons reduces consumption by between 3.7 and 5.6 percent relative to a control group, while a plan-making intervention reduces consumption by between 3.4 and 5.5 percent. While the two interventions have similar results, they are effective on different subpopulations, with the plan-making intervention being most effective for low-consumption households, while the neighborhood comparison intervention is most effective for high-consumption households. The results demonstrate that behavioral interventions, which have hitherto utilized sophisticated software to deliver customized messages, can be effectively implemented by local governments in developing countries, where technology and resource constraints render the sorts of customized messaging that has typically been used to deliver them in developed countries unfeasible. The results further confirm that raising awareness about how much water an individual consumes, and comparing this consumption level with peers, can go a long way in helping change individuals? behavior regarding the use of a finite resource such as water.

Keywords: Economics and Institutions, Global Environment, Hydrology, Public Sector Management and Reform, Non Governmental Organizations

Suggested Citation

Datta, Saugato and Miranda, Juan Jose and Zoratto, Laura and Calvo-Gonzalez, Oscar and Darling, Matthew and Lorenzana, Karina, A Behavioral Approach to Water Conservation: Evidence from Costa Rica (June 2, 2015). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7283, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2613750

Saugato Datta (Contact Author)

ideas42 ( email )

80 Broad Street
Suite 3000
New York, NY 10004
United States

Juan Jose Miranda

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Laura Zoratto

World Bank

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Oscar Calvo-Gonzalez

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Matthew Darling

ideas42

80 Broad Street
Suite 3000
New York, NY 10004
United States

Karina Lorenzana

ideas42

80 Broad Street
Suite 3000
New York, NY 10004
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
181
Abstract Views
1,854
Rank
313,493
PlumX Metrics