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Greening Household Behaviour

The Role of Public Policy

image of Greening Household Behaviour

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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Organic Food Consumption

Food production and consumption is exerting increasing pressure on the environment, in particular through water, energy, pesticide and fertiliser use. This chapter looks at the impact of instruments directly targeting consumer choice concerning organic food consumption, such as organic labelling and raising awareness through public information campaigns. It provides a better understanding of the main motivations for consuming organic food. The importance of private considerations, like health concerns, is compared to the role of environmental motivations in households’ decision to consume organic food. The chapter also examines how much more households are willing to pay for organic food products compared to conventional ones.

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