Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2014:17: It Wasn't Me! Visibility and Free Riding in Waste Sorting

Alessandro Bucciol (), Natalia Montinari () and Marco Piovesan ()
Additional contact information
Alessandro Bucciol: University of Verona, Postal: University of Verona, Dept. of Economics, Vicolo Campofiore 2, 37129 Verona , Italy
Natalia Montinari: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Marco Piovesan: Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen, Postal: Department of Economics, , University of Copenhagen, , Ă˜ster Farimagsgade 5, DK-1353 Copenhagen K, , Denmark,

Abstract: Free riding problems can be more severe in multiple-person social dilemmas than in two-person dilemmas, since agents can hide their actions behind the veil of anonymity. In this paper, we use field data on waste sorting to study the effect of visibility in social dilemmas. We compare the sorting behavior of households sharing (or not) their bin for unsorted waste. Since households have to pay a fee proportional to their unsorted waste production, sharing the bin means sharing the fee. We find that, on average, household unsorted waste production is higher if three or more households share the same bin. Surprisingly, when only two households share the same bin, and therefore the household sorting behavior can be identified, unsorted waste production decreases compared to users not sharing the bin. Our interpretation is that shame and fear of punishment may play a role between the two sharing users.

Keywords: Social Dilemmas; Free Riding; Visibility; Waste Management

JEL-codes: D01; D78; Q53

23 pages, May 18, 2014

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