Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics No. 20-2020
This paper empirically examines whether environmental values are correlated with economic preferences from behavioral economics and considers possible consequences when independence is assumed. The data for this analysis stem from a large-scale computer-based survey among more than 3700 German citizens. Our indicators for environmental values are based on the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP), which is a standard instrument in social and behavioral sciences and increasingly common in economic studies. The econometric analysis with Generalized Poisson regression models reveals strong correlations between two NEP scales and several economic preferences, which are based on established experimental measures: While social preferences (measured in an incentivized dictator game) and positive reciprocity are significantly positively correlated, trust and (less robust) negative reciprocity are significantly negatively correlated with the NEP scales, respectively. Only risk and time preferences (also measured in an incentivized experiment) are not robustly significantly correlated with the NEP scales. These estimation results strongly recommend the additional inclusion of economic preferences in econometric analyses that use a NEP scale as explanatory factor of main interest for environmentally relevant behavior. In particular, not considering social preferences, trust, and positive and negative reciprocity can lead to strong distortions due to omitted variable biases. This conclusion is illustrated in an empirical example that reveals biased estimation results for the effect of a NEP scale on donation activities if not all relevant economic preferences are included as control variables.
Environmental values New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) economic prefer-ences individual behavior artefactual field experiments