Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 181–202 | Cite as

Unintended Effects of Targeting an Environmental Rebate

  • Francisco Alpízar
  • Anna Nordén
  • Alexander Pfaff
  • Juan Robalino


When designing schemes such as conditional cash transfers or payments for ecosystem services, the choice of whom to select and whom to exclude is critical. We incentivize and measure actual contributions to an environmental public good to ascertain whether being excludedfrom a rebate can affect contributions and, if so, whether the rationale for exclusion influences such effects. Treatments, i.e., three rules that determine who is selected and excluded, are randomly assigned. Two of the rules base exclusion on subjects’ initial contributions. The third is based upon location and the rationales are always explained. The rule that targets the rebate to low initial contributors, who have more potential to raise contributions, is the only rule that raised contributions by those selected. Yet by design, that same rule excludes the subjects who contributed the most initially. They respond by reducing their contributions even though their income and prices are unchanged.


Behavioral economics Field experiment Forest conservation Public goods Selective rebates 

Supplementary material

10640_2015_9981_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 26 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Alpízar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna Nordén
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alexander Pfaff
    • 4
  • Juan Robalino
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Program in Economics and Environment for DevelopmentCATIETurrialbaCosta Rica
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GothenburgGöteborgSweden
  3. 3.Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem ScienceLund UniversityLundSweden
  4. 4.Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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