Too poor to be green consumers? A field experiment on revealed preferences for firewood in rural Guatemala
van Kempen, Luuk
The paper reports on a field experiment that investigates whether households in Guatemala are willing to surrender a small material gain in order to buy legal rather than illegal firewood. Given the ineffectiveness of command-and-control policies to curb the problem of illegal logging in Guatemala, the experiment assesses the potential viability of market-oriented solutions. Local consumers in developing countries are generally believed to be too poor to pay a premium for green/ethical products. Therefore, little information has been gathered on willingness-to-pay (WTP) for such products and its determinants in non-affluent consumer markets. While our experiment on firewood consumption in central Guatemala only implies a weak and indirect test of WTP for green products, the results indicate that it is premature, if not unwarranted, to assume that the poor are not ready to make pro-ethical choices in the marketplace. Moreover, we find that information on the legal procedures for firewood extraction significantly affects consumer choice between legal and illegal firewood.
Consumer behaviour Field experiments Illegal logging Guatemala
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