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Arjan Verschoor on Boosting recycling behaviour among urban households in Peru

WIDER Seminar Series

Arjan Verschoor presents at the WIDER Seminar Series on 25 October 2022.

Boosting recycling behaviour among urban households in Peru: a field experiment on the role of social norms and beliefs


The authors shed light on the role of social norms and individual beliefs about social norms for people’s decision to recycle, focusing on dynamic and injunctive norms. In cooperation with a local municipality in Lima, Peru, they conduct a field experiment with 1,709 households using phone surveys to increase sign-up rates to the municipality’s recycling programme. They show that individual misperceptions about dynamic and injunctive norms in the recycling behaviour of others can prevent people from signing up to the recycling programme, and that randomly correcting people’s beliefs causally raises their willingness to do so.

The authors demonstrate that individual level belief updating can explain heterogeneous responses to social norm information: social norm information treatments effectively motivate people to sign up to the recycling programme when people initially underestimate the actual norm, while there is no effect for those who overestimate or are correct about it. They find that this holds irrespective of whether the norm is high or low, or whether it is presented in a static or dynamic way.

Their findings underline the importance of individual beliefs about social norms for people’s decision making, and for the effectiveness of social norm interventions that directly address those beliefs.

About the author

Arjan Verschoor is a behavioural development economist. His current research is on agricultural investment decisions in Uganda. Recent research includes intra-household allocation in India, Ethiopia, Uganda and Nigeria; and the effectiveness of international development aid. 

WIDER Seminar Series

The WIDER Seminar Series showcases the latest research on key topics in development economics. It provides a forum for senior and early-career researchers, both in-house and external, to present recent and ongoing work related to UNU-WIDER’s current work programme.

In addition to providing a forum for both academic debate and training, the series presents an opportunity for policy makers and others interested in development to learn about the latest research methods and findings.

The Seminar Series events take place on Wednesdays. All those interested are invited to register and attend via Zoom.