Consumption, innovation and the environment

Behavioural and Experimental Economics for Environmental Policy


BEEP_Green hands raised

‌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.



COVER Tackling Environmental Problems with Behavioural Insights

Tackling Environmental Problems with the Help of Behavioural Insights (forthcoming May 2017)

Behavioural insights can help policy makers obtain a deeper understanding of the behavioural mechanisms contributing to environmental problems, and design and implement more effective policy interventions. This report reviews recent developments in the application of behavioural insights to encourage more sustainable consumption, investment and compliance decisions by individuals and firms. Drawing on interventions initiated by ministries and agencies responsible for environment and energy, as well as cross-government behavioural insights teams, it portrays how behavioural sciences have been integrated into the policy-making process.

The report covers a variety of policy areas:

  • energy,
  • water and food consumption,
  • transport and car choice,
  • waste management and resource efficiency,
  • compliance with environmental regulation; and 
  • participation in voluntary schemes.

It shows what has proven to work – and what has not – in policy practice in OECD countries and beyond.






This online tool, created in 2013, 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.



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