The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (replaced by CentER DP 2013-018)

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Abstract

Abstract: Field-experimental studies have shown that people litter more in more littered environments.Inspired by these findings, many cities around the world have adopted policies to quickly remove litter. While such policies may avoid that people follow the bad example of litterers, they may also invite free-riding on public cleaning services. This paper reports the results of a natural field experiment where, in a randomly assigned part of a residential area, the frequency of cleaning was reduced from daily to twice a week during a three-month period. Using high-frequency data on litter at treated and control locations before, during, and after the experiment, we find strong evidence that litter begets litter. However, we also find evidence that some people start to clean up after themselves when public cleaning services are diminished.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherEconomics
Number of pages29
Volume2012-054
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper
Volume2012-054

Keywords

  • littering
  • public services
  • free-riding
  • field experiment

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