Pro-social behaviour and energy use in Qatar: Evidence from Field Experiments | Anomitro Chatterjee
Anomitro Chatterjee will be discussing his ongoing work on pro-social behaviour and energy use in Qatar.
While there has been recent advancement in understanding behaviour that impacts residential energy use (Attari et al, 2010; Allcott, 2011; Delmas et al, 2013; Fowlie et al., 2016; Byrne et al, 2018; Ito et al, 2018), the behaviour of the top 1% of global users remains an under-explored question. Prior evidence suggests the highest energy users respond differently to both pecuniary and non-pecuniary incentives (Ferraro and Price, 2013), underscoring the need to further investigate the determinants of their energy-related behaviour. Qatar is the perfect testbed for studying this question, since it has one of the highest levels of per-capita electricity consumption in the world. Further, electricity is provided at subsidized rates to non-nationals and free of cost to Qatari nationals, which poses a unique challenge to reduction of energy use. Average monthly electricity use is at 1,148 kWh for flats, higher for non-national villas (6,177 kWh) and especially high for Qatari nationals (15,282 kWh) for whom electricity is free. For reference, average monthly electricity consumption in the United States is 914 kWh.
We use multiple experiments to understand electricity consumption behaviour and drivers of pro-social behaviour in Qatar. First, we use an artefactual field experiment to testbed whether pro-social messages leveraging religious values and national priorities can drive an increase in pro-social behaviour as measured by voluntary contributions to a well-known national charity. Second, we use similar messages as treatments in a stratified natural field experiment to test whether religious or national nudges bring about reductions in residential electricity use. Finally, we use a survey adapted from prior work (Attari et al. 2010; Byrne et al. 2018) administered to a randomly chosen subsample of residents to examine beliefs and biases about residential energy use and the channels through which behaviour change might work in the Qatari context. The artefactual field experiments show that individuals respond to the messages by increasing their levels of voluntary contributions to the charity. The survey results reveal differences in accuracy and bias of beliefs between nationals and non-nationals about the potential savings from energy-intensive actions like changing air conditioner settings.