Journal Article - October 2019

Preferences and the effectiveness of behavior-change interventions: Evidence from adoption of improved cookstoves in India

Preference heterogeneity can influence behavior in economically significant ways, thereby influencing the effectiveness of environmental policies or interventions. We test this hypothesis in the context of efficient cooking technology in India. We use stated preference methods to first characterize household tastes for various features of a more efficient cooking technology. We then relate these typically unobserved preferences to households’ adoption decisions during an experiment that allowed them to choose between two alternatives with different features. Stated preferences help predict actual adoption: households initially classified as uninterested are less likely to purchase and use any new technology, while relative distaste for pollution is linked to selection of a cleaner technology. Because of this influence on adoption behaviors, preference heterogeneity has important implications for how environmental policies can impact various health and development outcomes.
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