Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics

No 712: Nudging to reduce meat consumption: Immediate and persistent effects of an intervention at a university restaurant

Verena Kurz ()
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Verena Kurz: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Postal: Department of Economics., School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University, Box 640, SE 40530 GÖTEBORG

Abstract: Changing dietary habits to reduce the consumption of meat is considered to have great potential to mitigate food-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To test if nudging can increase the consumption of vegetarian food, I conducted a field experiment with two university restaurants. At the treated restaurant, the salience of the vegetarian option was increased by changing the menu order, and by placing the dish at a spot visible to customers. The other restaurant served as a control. Daily sales data on the three main dishes sold were collected from September 2015 until June 2016. The experiment was divided into a baseline, an intervention, and a reversal period where the setup was returned to its original state. Results show that the nudge increased the share of vegetarian lunches sold by around 6 percentage points. The change in behavior is partly persistent, as the share of vegetarian lunches sold remained 4 percentage points higher than during the baseline period after the original setup was reinstated. The changes in consumption reduced GHG emissions from food sales around 5 percent.

Keywords: nudging; field experiment; meat consumption; climate change mitigation

JEL-codes: C93; D03; D12; Q50

47 pages, November 2017

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