Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 335–351 | Cite as

Behavioral Environmental Economics: Promises and Challenges

  • Rachel Croson
  • Nicolas Treich


Environmental issues provide a rich ground for identifying the existence and consequences of human limitations. In this paper, we present a growing literature lying at the interface between behavioral and environmental economics. This literature identifies alternative solutions to traditional economic instruments in environmental domains that often work imperfectly. But it also faces a set of challenges, including the difficulty of computing welfare effects, and the identification of a robust environmental policy based on context-dependent (socio-) psychological effects. We illustrate our critical discussion with two behavioral schemes that have been widely implemented: “green nudges” and “corporate environmental responsibility.”


Behavioral economics Environmental policy Nudge   Corporate social responsibility Environmental psychology. 



We thank Stefan Ambec, Ian Bateman, Denis Hilton, Janet Swim and Laurent Waroquier as well as two anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions. This paper follows the David Pearce keynote lecture delivered by Rachel Croson at the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) conference in June 2013 in Toulouse (see especially Sect. 2 on “green nudges”). It also uses some insights from the presentations and discussions at the “Behavioral Environmental Economics” workshop organized by Nicolas Treich at the Toulouse School of Economics in October 2012. Nicolas Treich acknowledges financial support from the ANR INCRESP project, the French Ministry of Environment and the Chair “Finance Durable et Investissement Responsable” (FDIR).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Toulouse School of Economics (LERNA, INRA)ToulouseFrance

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