Do the Effects of Social Nudges Persist? Theory and Evidence from 38 Natural Field Experiments

52 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2017

See all articles by Alec Brandon

Alec Brandon

University of Chicago; Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School

Paul Ferraro

Johns Hopkins University

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Robert Metcalfe

University of Chicago - Becker Friedman Institute for Economics

Michael Price

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Florian Rundhammer

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

This study examines the mechanisms underlying long-run reductions in energy consumption caused by a widely studied social nudge. Our investigation considers two channels: physical capital in the home and habit formation in the household. Using data from 38 natural field experiments, we isolate the role of physical capital by comparing treatment and control homes after the original household moves, which ends treatment. We find 35 to 55 percent of the reductions persist once treatment ends and show this is consonant with the physical capital channel. Methodologically, our findings have important implications for the design and assessment of behavioral interventions.

Suggested Citation

Brandon, Alec and Ferraro, Paul and List, John A. and Metcalfe, Robert and Price, Michael and Rundhammer, Florian, Do the Effects of Social Nudges Persist? Theory and Evidence from 38 Natural Field Experiments (March 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23277, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941255

Alec Brandon (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School ( email )

100 International Drive
Baltimore, MD 21202
United States

Paul Ferraro

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Robert Metcalfe

University of Chicago - Becker Friedman Institute for Economics ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Michael Price

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Florian Rundhammer

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

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