Behavioral innovations: The missing capital in sustainable development?Journal articleAntoine Beretti, Charles Figuières and Gilles Grolleau, Ecological Economics, Volume 89, Issue C, pp. 187-195, 2013

Many scholars argue that environmental issues can be addressed through technological innovation, a proposal which echoes a lasting debate between environmental and ecological economics about the substitution rate between natural and manufactured capital. In addition to these two established types of capital, this paper introduces the idea of ‘behavioral capital’. We define behavioral capital as the latent potential of behavioral change to affect improvement in environmental quality. Our contribution argues that technological and traditional regulatory innovations serve as insufficient tools for addressing modern environmental issues and ensuring sustainable development. Without discarding these solutions, we contend that because human behavior is a significant contributor to environmental problems, it should be regarded as a key component of continued solutions. We suggest that the dual interest theory can serve as an integrative framework for behavioral innovations related to environmental issues. In suggesting this, we assume that behavioral innovations can both overcome some of the limitations of technological innovations and offer new solutions. Our main insight is to suggest that some depletion of natural capital – but not all – can be offset by behavioral changes without decreasing, or even increasing, subjective well-being.

Using Money to Motivate Both ‘Saints’ and ‘Sinners’: a Field Experiment on Motivational Crowding-OutJournal articleAntoine Beretti, Charles Figuières and Gilles Grolleau, Kyklos, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp. 63-77, 2013

Economists recognize that monetary incentives can backfire through the crowding-out of moral and social motivations leading to an overall decrease of the desired behavior. We implement a field experiment where participants are asked to fill a questionnaire on pro-environmental behaviors under different incentive schemes, either with no monetary incentive (control) or with low or high monetary incentive directed either to the respondents or to an environmental cause. We investigate whether (i) there is a significant crowding-out effect, (ii) directing monetary incentive to the cause rather than to the respondents reduces the overall impact of a crowding-out effect, and (iii) offering the choice regarding the money recipient a ects participation. Except for a high monetary incentive where the respondent chooses himself the end-recipient, we show that monetary rewards directed either at the individual or at the cause actually harms intrinsic motivations, but not to the same extent. We formalize our results building on an adaptation of an original model by Bolle and Otto (2010) and introduce agents heterogeneity in terms of intrinsic motivation. This heterogeneity has key implications for the understanding of the crowding-out e ect. Several policy recommendations regarding the use of market-based instruments are drawn. (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Public infrastructure, noncooperative investments, and endogenous growthJournal articleCharles Figuières, Fabien Prieur and Mabel Tidball, Canadian Journal of Economics, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp. 587-610, 2013

Two countries strategically invest in productive infrastructure within a general equilibrium model with endogenous growth. These public investments generate externalities. Dynamic analysis reveals that: (1) under constant returns, the two countries growth rates differ during the transition but are identical on the balanced growth path, (2) a country with decreasing returns can experience sustained growth provided that the other country grows at a positive constant rate, (3) cooperation does not necessarily lead to higher growth for each country, and it can increase or decrease the gap between countries growth rates depending on the countries consumption preferences regarding domestic and foreign goods.

Weak Moral Motivation Leads to the Decline of Voluntary ContributionsJournal articleCharles Figuières, David Masclet and Marc Willinger, Journal of Public Economic Theory, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp. 745-772, 2013

We develop a model that accounts for the decay of the average contribution observed in experiments on voluntary contributions to a public good. The novel idea is that people's moral motivation is "weak." Their judgment about the right contribution depends on observed contributions by group members and on an intrinsic "moral ideal." We show that the assumption of weakly morally motivated agents leads to the decline of the average contribution over time. The model is compatible with persistence of overcontributions, variability of contributions (across and within individuals), the "restart effect" and the observation that the decay in contributions is slower in longer games. Furthermore, it offers a rationale for conditional cooperation. (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Regulation of Investments in Infrastructure: The Interplay between Strategic Behaviors and Initial EndowmentsJournal articleDenis Claude, Charles Figuières and Mabel Tidball, Journal of Public Economic Theory, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp. 35-66, 2012

No abstract is available for this item.

Sustainable exploitation of a natural resource: a satisfying use of Chichilnisky’s criterionJournal articleCharles Figuières and Mabel Tidball, Economic Theory, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp. 243-265, 2012

Chichilnisky's criterion for sustainability has the merit to be, so far, the unique explicit, complete and continuous social welfare criterion that combines successfully the requirement of Weak Pareto with an instrumental notion of intergenerational equity (no dictatorship of the present and no dictatorhsip of the future). But it has one important drawback: in the context of renewable resources, there exists no exploitation path that maximizes this criterion. The present article suggests a way to cope with this weakness. We give good reasons to restrict admissible controls to the set of convex combinations between the discounted utilitarian program and the golden rule program. It is shown that optimal paths in this set exists under rather weak sufficient conditions on the fundamentals of the problem. (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Vanishing Leadership And Declining Reciprocity In A Sequential Contribution ExperimentJournal articleCharles Figuières, David Masclet and Marc Willinger, Economic Inquiry, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp. 567-584, 2012

We examine experimentally how and why voluntary contributions are affected by sequentiality. Instead of deciding simultaneously in each round, subjects are randomly ordered in a sequence which differs from round to round. We compare sessions in which subjects observe the contributions from earlier decisions in each round ("sequential treatment with information") to sessions in which subjects decide sequentially within rounds, but cannot observe earlier contributions ("sequential treatment without information"). We also investigate whether average contributions are affected by the length of the sequence by varying group size. Our results show that sequentiality alone has no effect on contributions, but that the level of contributions increases when subjects are informed about the contributions of lower-ranked subjects. We provide evidence that the so-called "leadership effect" vanishes within rounds, and that group size has no significant impact on the average level of contributions in our sequential contribution games. (This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

The REDD Scheme to Curb Deforestation: A Well-designed System of Incentives?Journal articleCharles Figuières, Solenn Leplay, Estelle Midler and Sophie Thoyer, Strategic Behavior and the Environment, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp. 239-257, 2012

The need for a global agreement to the problem of tropical deforestation has led to the REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) scheme, which proposes that the developed countries pay developing countries for CO 2 emissions saved through avoided deforestation and forest degradation. The remaining issue is specifying the rules defining payments to countries that reduce their deforestation levels. This article develops a game-theoretic bargaining model, simulating the on-going negotiation process which is currently taking place within the Convention on Climate Change, after the Copenhagen agreement of December 2009. It shows that the conditions under which developing countries are left to bargain over the allocation of the global forest fundmay lead to an ineffective system of incentives. Below a given level of contributions from the North, the mechanism fails to curb deforestation. Beyond this level, it induces perverse effects: the larger the North's contribution, the larger the deforestation decisions. Consequently, the mechanism is most effective only at a specific threshold, which, given the unobservability of countries'preferences, can only be found by a repeated "trial and error" implementation process.

Heterogeneity in a Class of Two-Player GamesJournal articleCharles Figuières and Frédéric Rychen, Economics Bulletin, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp. 426-435, 2011

In two-player games with negative (positive) spillovers it is well-known that symmetric agents both overact (underact) at the Nash equilibria. We show that for heterogeneous agents this rule of thumb has to be amended if the game features strategic substitutability.

Agriculture production versus biodiversity protection: The impact of North-South unconditional transfersJournal articleStéphanie Aulong, Charles Figuières and Sophie Thoyer, Ecological Economics, Volume 70, Issue 8, pp. 1499-1507, 2011

The purpose of this paper is to explore whether international income transfers can improve or worsen the global level of biodiversity and global social welfare by changing the relative contributions to biodiversity protection and to agricultural production. Because of the public good nature of biodiversity, Warr's neutrality theorem suggests that such transfers may have no effects at all (Warr, 1983). A model is developed, based on the simplifying assumption that northern countries have little biodiversity whereas southern countries are endowed with natural capital in the form of (generally unspoilt) biodiversity-rich land. Southern countries allocate optimally land and capital to two competing productive activities, agriculture and eco-tourism. When transfers are organized from the North to the South, we show that Warr's neutrality theorem collapses. Transfers can either reduce or increase the natural capital in the South, depending on some empirically verifiable hypotheses concerning the characteristics of the eco-tourism and agricultural production functions. In addition, we demonstrate that welfare improvements can be obtained even with reductions in the level of biodiversity.