Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 395–417 | Cite as

Morality and Rationality in Environmental Policy

  • Bruno S. Frey


The "Moralist" camp takes environmental morale to be essential in order to save nature. The "Rationalist" camp, mainly represented by economists, takes market-based instruments solely relying on extrinsic motivation to be both necessary and sufficient for a successful environmental policy. Recently, the moralists have learned to appreciate economists' incentive instruments, and rationalists have learned that environmental morale is required to find political support for the introduction of their preferred instruments.

Intrinsic motivation in the form of environmental morale is moreover closely connected to the extrinsic motivation via crowding effects. Economic incentives – in particular tradeable emission rights and emission taxes – tend to undermine environmental morale while policy instruments tend to raise it.

An environmental policy based on complementarity is able to exploit the advantages, and to weaken the disadvantages, of the policies proposed by the two camps. Market-based instruments should be accompanied by policies informing and inviting the consumers to engage. In addition, possibilities to participate in the decision-making about environmental policy should be offered (preferably via direct democracy), and the policy should be decided and undertaken at the lowest possible level, normally the local community level.


Local Community Economic Policy Environmental Policy Community Level Intrinsic Motivation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruno S. Frey
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Empirical Economic ResearchUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland. E-mail

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