Essays in Environmental Policy Evaluation

Abstract: Paper 1: The Effects of an Environmental Policy on Consumers – Lessons from the Chinese Plastic Bag Regulation Abstract: In an attempt to reduce plastic bag litter, China introduced a nationwide regulation requiring all retailers to charge for plastic shopping bags on June 1, 2008. By using the policy implementation as a natural experiment and conducting two surveys before and after the implementation, we investigate the impact of the regulation on people’s plastic shopping bag use. We find that the regulation has had a remarkable impact, causing a 49% reduction in the use of new plastic shopping bags and it has also affected various other aspects of plastic shopping bag use behaviors. Nevertheless, the effects of the regulation differ largely among groups of consumers and among places. Paper 2: Can Stated Preference Methods Accurately Predict Responses to Environmental Policies? The Case of a Plastic Bag Regulation in China Abstract: By using a plastic bag regulation implementation as a naturally occurred policy change with between-subject design, this study investigates the validity of stated preference (SP) estimates to predict the change in consumption of an everyday good. Before the regulation, plastic bags in China were provided by shops free of charge for carrying sold commodities back home. We utilized a stated preference (SP) survey technique to elicit consumers’ contingent bag consumption behaviors in certain hypothetical regulation scenarios of bag pricing. Moreover, after the regulation, we conducted another survey using a comparable sample pool for collecting information on actual use of the bags and other relevant information. We thus have unique data to compare consumers’ stated contingent behavior with their revealed actual behavior in connection to a regulation implementation. The comparison results show that consumers’ behavioral reactions to a policy change can be reasonably well predicted by a stated preference (SP) technique.

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