Environmental policy tools and evaluation

Behavioural and Experimental Economics for Environmental Policy


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‌A project to use scientific insights from behavioural economics to improve environmental policy.

The aim is to study how environmental policies targeting individuals, households and communities can be improved by accounting for people’s altruistic attitudes (desires to “do the right thing”), by co-operative and competitive tendencies (reciprocity and “keeping up with the Joneses”), and by heuristics (“rules of thumb” and mental shortcuts). In the same way that traditional economics has proven useful for designing incentive-based environmental policies, this project investigates how behavioural economics can inform the design of “norm-based” environmental policies and “behaviourally robust” markets for ecosystem services.


Launched in 2013, this online tool is a contribution to the OECD Project on "Behavioural Economics and Environmental Policy Design". This work is part of a broader effort of a project that seeks to identify areas where behavioural economics can have the greatest impact on environmental policy design. 

This database proposes a framework to organise relevant behavioural economics studies in a way that can be most useful for practitioners and policymakers considering behavioural interventions as an adjunct to policy instruments. The overall objective of this framework is to facilitate the search and identification of studies most relevant for a given policy question. For example, the framework would help a policymaker to answer the following questions: where were catalogued studies of cognitive dissonance conducted—can a policymaker expect to achieve comparable impacts if we replicate the intervention elsewhere? How cost-effective is Intervention Type X relative to Type Y?

Studies are categorised according to their context (place, time), policy domain (e.g. energy/water conservation, etc.) and according to the type of interventions they analyse (e.g. social comparison, co-operation, etc.). There are also a number of attributes concerning how a given intervention was evaluated that can be important in interpreting the validity of the results (randomised controlled trial, natural experiment, etc.). Finally, of most importance are the outcomes of the interventions – both the behavioural impacts and the economic outcomes (i.e. costs) of the interventions.




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  • For more information, please contact the Environment and Economy Integration Division: enveei@oecd.org.


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