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Household Responses to Pricing Garbage by the Bag
The American Economic Review (1996)
  • Don Fullerton, University of Texas at Austin
  • Thomas C. Kinnaman, Bucknell University
This paper employs individual household data to estimate the effect of per-unit pricing on the weight of garbage, the number of containers, the weight per can, and the amount of recycling. We also provide two indirect measures of illegal dumping. The data are based on a natural experiment that provides a unique opportunity to study human behavior in response to a change in price. On July 1, 1992, the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, implemented a program to charge $0.80 per 32-gallon bag or can of residential garbage collected at the curb. Before and after the implementation of this program, we counted and weighed the bags or cans of garbage and recyclable materials of 75 households. In response to this new price, the average person living in these households reduced the weight of garbage by 14 percent, reduced the volume of garbage (number of containers) by 37 percent, and increased the weight of recycling by 16 percent. Our indirect measures suggest that additional illegal dumping may account for 28 percent to 43 percent of the reduction in garbage.
Publication Date
September, 1996
Citation Information
Don Fullerton and Thomas C. Kinnaman. "Household Responses to Pricing Garbage by the Bag" The American Economic Review Vol. 86 Iss. 4 (1996)
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