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Present bias predicts participation in payments for environmental services: evidence from a behavioral experiment in Uganda

Clot, S. and Stanton, C. Y. (2014) Present bias predicts participation in payments for environmental services: evidence from a behavioral experiment in Uganda. Ecological Economics, 108. pp. 162-170. ISSN 0921-8009

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.07.026

Abstract/Summary

Farmers are necessary agents in global efforts to conserve the environment now that croplands and pastures together constitute the largest terrestrial system on Earth – covering some 48% of ice-free land surface. Whereas standard economic models predict that farmers will participate in conservation programs so long as they are profitable, empirical findings from behavioral economics point to a number of normally unobservable preferences that may influence the decision-making process. This study tests, for the first time, whether heterogeneity in behavioral preferences correlates with decisions to participate in Payments for Environmental Services (PES) programs. We elicit individual trust and time preferences using economic experiments and link resulting measures to household survey data and participation decisions in a Ugandan PES program. We find that farmers who exhibit a preference for proximate gains – present-biased preferences – are 47.7% more likely to participate in the program than those who show time-consistent or future-biased preferences. This result has implications for ongoing and planned PES programs involving farmers, particularly in Africa, by highlighting a potential relationship between payment timing and participation, and further validates the use of behavioral experiments in explaining real-world decisions.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Economics
ID Code:47430
Publisher:Elsevier

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