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Nudging for Nature

The concept of nudging, using a soft push in the direction of desired behavior by using knowledge from behavioural science, rather than changing the prices of a good or service or prohibiting it completely, is a novel way of reaching higher order goals such as sustainable consumption without restricting people in their daily lives.

Thaler and Sunstein (2008) defines a nudge as: "... any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not."

Aim 1: "To investigate when and why nudges affect consumers towards making more environmentally friendly and healthy decisions"

There is ample evidence that nudges have an effect on behaviour. However, the research that has been conducted on nudges up until now is scattered and varies considerably in the quality of its evaluation. In order to use nudges as a policy tool in an effective way a far more rigorous and systematic analysis is needed.

Aim 2: "To develop a guideline on how to design and evaluate the effect of nudges on sustainable consumption"

Our intention is to develop this guideline to be used both by practitioners and by administrators so that one can ensure that nudges are evaluated in accordance with academic standards.

Funding: Swedish EPA

Principal investigators: Fredrik Carlsson, Christina Gravert, Olof Johansson-Stenman, Verena Kurz

Presentation of the project Nudging for nature

Outage costs for Swedish customers

The overall objective of the project is to estimate power outage costs for different customer groups. Outage costs and cost parameters will be estimated for the following categories: households, manufacturing, agriculture, public sector, and trade and service sector. The costs are measured through the use of surveys to both households and firms, where they are asked to state their outage costs and willingness to pay to avoid outages with difference characteristics such as length and timing of outage.

In addition, the aim is to contribute to the development of the research methodology. In particular our focus is on addressing the issue of the difference between, in the survey situation, stated and actual behaviour.

Funding: Swedish Energy Markets Inspectorate

Principal investigators: Fredrik Carlsson, Mitesh Kataria, Elina Lampi, Peter Martinsson

Tax compliance, norms, and enforcement

The project develops theory and makes use of unique data in order to increase our understanding of tax compliance among individuals. Some researchers claim that increased enforcement deters tax evasion, while others say that the willingness to comply is better fostered by strengthening social norms. In the project we will analyze both and compare the neoclassical motives with behavioral ones.

The project consists of theoretical work on the evolution of social norms concerning tax morale and a game theoretical paper on how guilt and awareness affect tax evasion. Most of the project is, however, empirical. Through close relations with the Swedish Tax Agency (STA), the research team has access to unique high-quality register data. In a couple of papers, we study to what extent taxpayers are loss averse when they file their taxes. In collaboration with STA, we will also conduct a field experiment where we compare a couple of nudges with respect to tax compliance.

Funding: Swedish Research Council

Principal investigators: Katarina Nordblom, Per Engström and Martin Dufwenberg

Social Status, Social Preferences, and Public Policy

This research project deals with relative consumption concerns driven by the desire for social status and the implications thereof for tax and expenditure policy.

The first aim is to address the problem of optimal income and commodity taxation, as well as the optimal use of public expenditure, when people care about their relative consumption. Although earlier studies show that relative concerns have important implications for tax and expenditure policy, they pay less attention to how the policy responses depend on the surrounding economy. This is problematic for at least two reasons. First, social comparisons are present alongside other market failures, notably unemployment, which may affect the priorities in society. Second, a large empirical literature suggests that people are concerned with status comparisons at the same time as they have prosocial preferences and care about perceived fairness. This broader perspective forms the basis for our research proposal, where we intend to examine the policy implications of (i) status concerns in economies with equilibrium unemployment, and (ii) the combination of relative consumption concerns and prosocial preferences.

The second aim is to present new empirical results on the interaction between status concerns and unemployment, and also on how relative concerns may interact with social preferences. In the former case we utilize a rich panel dataset suitable for this task, while the latter is based on field experiments.

Funding: Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)

Principal investigators: Thomas Aronsson, Olof Johansson-Stenman, Kenneth Backlund, Alpaslan Akay and Peter Martinsson

Collective Action Research

As part of the Center of Collective Action Research, several researchers work on the issue of large scale collective action. There exist quite significant amount of research and knowledge about which factors that have a positive effect on cooperation and hence collective action. For example, trust, sanctions (punishment) and strong leaders all have been shown to have a positive impact on contributing to a public good (referred to as cooperation) in experimental settings. However, it is less clear how such factors would affect cooperation in large scale social dilemmas.

As part of this research endavoure researchers are involved a number of projects including work international climate agreements, institutional trust, and the role of institutions and design of institutions for solving cooperation and coordination problems at a large scale.

Funding: Center for Collective Action Research

Principal investigators: Fredrik Carlsson, Claes Ek and Åsa Löfgren

Page Manager: Marie Andersson|Last update: 9/21/2017

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