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

46 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2017 Last revised: 8 Aug 2022

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

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

We formalize a research design to uncover the mechanisms underlying long-term reductions in energy consumption caused by a widely implemented nudge. We consider two channels: technology adoption and habit formation. Using data from 38 natural field experiments, we isolate the role of technology adoption by comparing treatment and control homes after the initial resident moves, which discontinues the treatment for a home. We find that the majority of energy reductions persist in the home after treatment ends and show this persistence is consonant with a technology adoption channel. The role of technology in creating persistent behavior change has important implications for designing behavioral interventions and evaluating their long-term social impacts.

Suggested Citation

Brandon, Alec and Ferraro, Paul and List, John A. and Metcalfe, Robert and Price, Michael and Rundhammer, Florian, Do the Effects of 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

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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