Social Norms, Morals and Self-interest as Determinants of Pro-environment Behaviours: The Case of Household Recycling

Mikoaj Czajkowski, Nick Hanley and Karine Nyborg

Published in:

Environmental and Resource Economics, Volume 66, Issue 4, pp. 647-670, April 2017



This paper considers the role which selfish, moral and social incentives and pressures play in explaining the extent to which stated choices over pro-environment behaviours vary across individuals. The empirical context is choices over household waste contracts and recycling actions in Poland. A theoretical model is used to show how cost-based motives and the desire for a positive self and social image combine to determine the utility from alternative choices of recycling behaviour. We then describe a discrete choice experiment designed to empirically investigate the effects such drivers have on stated choices. A hybrid logit model is used to link statements over attitudes to recycling to choices, dealing with a potential endogeneity problem caused by the joint effects of un-observables on attitudes and choices. We find that a substantial share of our respondents prefer to sort their waste at home rather than in a central sorting facility. This preference is associated with a moral/intrinsic motivation, involving a belief that sorting at home is more thorough than central sorting.

Published Dec. 1, 2017 2:51 PM - Last modified Dec. 1, 2017 2:59 PM