Essays in Diffusion of Responsibility, Food Waste and Mobility Alternatives

verfasst von
Adrian Vargas Lopez
betreut von
Luis Alberto Serra Barragan

Human behaviours are at the core of the climate change conundrum. In essence, these conducts are individual decisions within broader economic and social realities. In this dissertation, I explore people's choices in everyday behaviours and reflect on possible policies for intervention based on behavioural sciences. I regionally ground my analysis in a developing country like Mexico because most of the research in this field is at an initial stage. In chapter 1, I study the diffusion of responsibility phenomena. It happens when people diffuse their responsibility within a group in a given situation. The conditions in which it occurs encompass from crime to emergencies. This study proposes an experiment that examines the diffusion of responsibility and its relationship with social damage to the environment. The analysis observes the students' acceptance rate for increasing a private monetary pay-off instead of donating for reforestation efforts. The main conclusion suggests that being in a smaller-size group decreases the environmental damage. The findings imply that people diffuse their responsibility as the number of individuals in the group increases. This study also detects mild evidence that individuals reduce their social damage whenever they are directly responsible (i.e., pivotal). These outcomes add to the discussion of the diffusion of responsibility, open a stream of attention to environmental damages, and congregate both in the same conversation. In chapter 2, I explore the level of food waste in households. Household food waste is a phenomenon primarily produced by consumer habits and behaviours. The necessary confinement measures implemented worldwide to contain the Covid-19 pandemic altered these consumer practices. This chapter examines how household's culinary traditions and food management have changed in Mexico and their impact on food waste. The study obtained 525 answers using an online survey about food habits distributed through social networks in Mexico between December 2020 and January 2021. The results show that the participating households increased their monetary expenditure on groceries during the pandemic and reduced food waste. The estimation of consumer responsiveness to waste, through the introduction of a framework based on a Quadratic Almost-Ideal Demand System, confirms that, even more during the lockdown, food waste has become a luxury good. The analysis of food category changes allows for a detailed, helpful study to curtail food waste in Mexican households and encourage transitions towards sustainable and circular consumption behaviour. In chapter 3, I examine mobility alternatives for people living within cities. More specifically, for those employees trying to commute, buy groceries and attend social gatherings. Adopting less damaging behaviours to the environment is crucial for reducing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) released into the atmosphere. Car-sharing and similar systems based in the sharing economy are effective alternatives to accomplish this goal, mainly for people commuting in big cities. However, there is scarce evidence on how potential users understand car-sharing, including its pro-environmental aspect. This study shows the results of a survey and a behaviourally informed experiment in Mexico with three firms from three different economic sectors. In the survey experiment, we build three interventions underscoring the benefits of using a corporate car-sharing system: 1) status attributes, 2) sense of belonging to a group using social norms, and 3) economic and time savings from choosing the system. The results suggest that highlighting the status attributes as one of the main benefits of using car-sharing systems increases people’s interest in these alternatives. Additionally, by emphasizing this attribute, people feel more inclined to sell their privately owned vehicles and less willing to buy a car in the coming months if offered a car-sharing option. The post hoc analysis of the experimental data also suggests that potential users in Mexico do not understand car-sharing as a pro-environmental behaviour. We recommend decision-makers interested in promoting car-sharing systems, both in the private and the public sector, to publicize their benefits to the environment and other benefits to the user like status. Through spillovers, this could improve the probability of car-sharing users adopting environmentally friendlier behaviours in other seemingly unrelated domains.

Institut für Umweltplanung
Umweltverhalten und Planung
Anzahl der Seiten
Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung
SDG 11 – Nachhaltige Städte und Gemeinschaften, SDG 13 – Klimaschutzmaßnahmen, SDG 16 – Frieden, Gerechtigkeit und starke Institutionen
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