Published: Sept. 22, 2018

This paper examines the effect of social comparisons in middle-income households in Southeast Mexico. We find that treatment of social comparison reduces electric consumption by 10% in Cancun and by 24% in Merida. Cancun and Merida are two of the fastest-growing cities in the Region, where the median annual income is close to 9,300 USD. We collected 302 observations in Merida and 275 observations in Cancun.

We randomly assigned treatment to about half of the sample. The treatment was a social comparison message in the form of a pamphlet with some tips to save energy and a comparison with the neighborhood consumption. All the variables were statistically identical between treated and non-treated groups. The variation thus can be attributed to the treatment. The response was higher in Merida than in Cancun. Also the Merida sample had a higher income and more appliances than the Cancun sample (9,300 vs. 7,250 USD). Also, Households with air conditioning had a significant response to the nudge.

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