Raising Environmental Consciousness versus Creating Economic Incentives as Alternative Policies for Environmental Protection

By Santopietro, George D. | Journal of Economic Issues, June 1995 | Go to article overview

Raising Environmental Consciousness versus Creating Economic Incentives as Alternative Policies for Environmental Protection


Santopietro, George D., Journal of Economic Issues


Protecting the environment means changing people's behavior to reduce human impact on the environment. Neoclassical economists, with their analytical focus on utility maximizing individuals, recommend the creation of monetary incentives that force users of environmental services to take account of the opportunity cost of their behavior. These policies are often rejected by noneconomist environmentalists who object to allowing people to pay to pollute and to having to pay them to stop. Such environmentalists tend to advocate raising environmental consciousness through education as a means of inducing changes in behavior. In this paper, an institutionalist analysis of monetary incentives and education is used to identify the conditions under which each type of policy might be more effective.

This debate is likely to become more important in the design of future environmental policy. Environmental policy in the United States since 1970 has focused on technological fixes for abating pollution from point sources of emissions. Thus far, policymakers have generally avoided alternatives aimed at changing the behavior of households. However, as the potential for technological fixes is exhausted, environmental protection and sustainable development will require changes in the behavior of millions of individuals and households.

Alternatives for Influencing Household Behavior

J. K Galbraith's analysis of the types of power provides a useful framework for classifying the methods that might be used to change household behavior in order to reduce the environmental impact of current life-styles [Galbraith 1983].

1. Condign power wins compliance by making alternative behaviors sufficiently unpleasant or painful that these alternatives are not chosen. Monetary disincentives may be used to discourage undesired behavior. Fines for violating emission regulations and emission charges are examples of environmental protection policies based on condign power.

2. Compensatory power wins compliance by offering sufficient rewards for appropriate behavior so that individuals are induced to comply. Monetary incentives are offered when the appropriate behavior is followed. Payment for recycling materials and subsidization of control of agricultural run-off are examples of compensatory environmental policy. To a neoclassical economist, both monetary incentives and disincentives represent the same policy-changing opportunity costs. Charges increase the monetary cost of emissions, and payments for recycling create an opportunity cost of disposing. However, from the point of view of the household, charges would be seen as a punishment for continuing a customary behavior, while payments would seen as a reward that can be earned for adopting change.

3. Conditioning power persuades a person to perform the desired behavior because it is perceived as natural and proper. The motivation becomes intrinsic. The person will choose this type of behavior without extrinsic influences such as the threat of punishment or the expectation of reward. The person's own value system is changed in the effort to change behavior. Environmental consciousness-raising constitutes the use of conditioning power to change behaviors that harm the natural environment.

Economists advocating the use of monetary incentives are in effect relying on the use of condign and compensatory power, but environmentalists supporting the use of education prefer to use conditioning power. This is because their fundamental goals differ. Economists are concerned only with compliance: whether or not the individuals change their behavior in the desired manner. Environmentalists are seeking conversion: changing the underlying value system that guides behavior.

Social psychologists have studied the means by which behavior can be changed through conversion. Much of the literature in social psychology acknowledges that monetary incentives are the most powerful tool for obtaining desired behavioral changes [De Young 1986, 1993; Dwyer et al.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Raising Environmental Consciousness versus Creating Economic Incentives as Alternative Policies for Environmental Protection
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.