Increasing the Acceptance of Energy Subsidy Reforms: A Cross-Country Survey Experiment in Latin America and the Caribbean

51 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2022

See all articles by Yan Vieites

Yan Vieites

FGV-EBAPE

Mariana Weiss

Inter-American Development Bank

Bernardo Andretti

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) - Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (EBAPE)

Jorge Jacob

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michelle Hallack

Inter-American Development Bank

Abstract

Energy subsidies create a series of distortions that often have negative environmental and social consequences. Yet, since subsidies confer salient and tangible benefits in the form of cheaper prices, citizens are very resistant to reforms. This research investigates how to best communicate the removal of subsidies in order to increase the acceptance of energy reforms. We conducted a highly powered, preregistered study across 11 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (N=6,824) assessing baseline knowledge and views about subsidies and testing several interventions. Our results show that citizens (a) display a generalized lack of knowledge about the existence of energy subsidies, (b) are very unwilling to remove these subsidies once they know of its existence, and (c) would like subsidies to actually increase rather than decrease. Despite these results, our experiment revealed that communication strategies can be tailored to increase the acceptance of energy reforms. Specifically, emphasizing the negative consequences of subsidies (e.g., overconsumption of natural resources) is more effective than highlighting the potential benefits to be obtained via its removal (e.g., higher investment in education). Further, providing complete information is more effective than offering summarized pieces of information. These findings provide guidance on how to effectively communicate energy reforms.

Keywords: Energy subsidies, sustainability, Sustainable development, Latin America, Experiment.

Suggested Citation

Vieites, Yan and Weiss, Mariana and Andretti, Bernardo and Jacob, Jorge and Hallack, Michelle, Increasing the Acceptance of Energy Subsidy Reforms: A Cross-Country Survey Experiment in Latin America and the Caribbean. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4212238 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4212238

Yan Vieites (Contact Author)

FGV-EBAPE ( email )

R. Jorn. Orlando Dantas, 30
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 22231-010
Brazil

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.yanvieites.com/

Mariana Weiss

Inter-American Development Bank ( email )

1300 New York Av NW
Washington, DC
United States

Bernardo Andretti

Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) - Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration (EBAPE) ( email )

Brazil
2498806359855 (Phone)
25685050 (Fax)

Jorge Jacob

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Michelle Hallack

Inter-American Development Bank ( email )

1300 New York Av NW
Washington, DC
United States

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