Greening Household Behaviour

The Role of Public Policy

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Developing growth strategies that promote greener lifestyles requires a good understanding of what factors affect people’s behaviour towards the environment. Recent OECD work based on periodic surveys of more than 10 000 households across a number of countries and areas represents a breakthrough by providing a common framework to collect unique empirical evidence for better policy design.

This publication presents responses from the most recent round of the OECD survey implemented in 2011 in 5 areas (energy, food, transport, waste and water) and 11 countries: Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Analysis comparing the data across countries, policy conditions and households’ characteristics reveals which measures most effectively change behaviour. Each round of the survey also allows to track changes over time and to explore new emerging issues.  

The new survey confirms the importance of providing the right economic incentives for influencing our decisions. The findings indicate that “soft” measures such as labelling and public information campaigns also have a significant complementary role to play. Spurring desirable behaviour change requires a mix of these instruments. 

This book is a milestone for all those interested by the challenging question of ways to promote greener behaviour, from policy makers to individual citizens.  

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Annex A

Methodology and Project Implementation

The OECD household survey was implemented using the internet, a cost-effective and promising approach to large-scale data collection.1 A survey provider (Lightspeed Research) was identified to collect responses to the questionnaire using its on-line consumer panels in different countries. The OECD chose the survey provider with care in order to minimise problems that can be associated with online surveys, such as biased samples, professional respondents and superficial responses. Thus, the survey provider’s panel size, recruitment, management and representiveness were scrutinised. In particular, the rules applied to manage the panel – such as the incentive mode used for the respondent and the maximum number of surveys a panellist can respond to per year – have been carefully examined.

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