UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Essays in environmental economics and international trade Fraser, Alastair Edward Wilson


In Chapter 1, I study how households respond to financial rewards offered for achieving electricity conservation targets. Using an event-study empirical approach, I estimate the short-run and long-run changes in electricity use. I find that electricity use declines as households join the program and attempt to achieve their conservation targets, but rebounds close to pre-program levels as households leave the program. This suggests that households do not make changes that result in persistent electricity conservation, and that the ongoing incentive of the financial rewards is necessary for causing long-run lower electricity use. In Chapter 2, I exploit a discontinuity in the probability that households re-enroll in the same energy conservation program. This provides direct evidence on what determines households’ re-enrollment decisions, and permits me to use a fuzzy regression discontinuity empirical strategy to estimate the treatment effect of re-enrolling. I find households’ decisions whether to re-enroll are sensitive to their success or failure in achieving their conservation target but, conditional on their success, are largely independent of the level of conservation they achieve or their pre-determined characteristics. As a result, households do not make re-enrollment decisions that are consistent with the incentive structure of the reward program. Importantly for many incentive programs, this suggests households are using simple heuristics in making decisions rather than responding to the detailed information provided to them. In Chapter 3, I show that trade models incorporating multiple transport modes have imposed strong—and potentially unrealistic—restrictions on substitution patterns across mode-specific trade flows. In particular, I show that different models have implicitly assumed bilateral trade by air and sea to be both complements and substitutes, and this assumption has significant quantitative and qualititive implications for counterfactual trade patterns. Using freight costs for U.S. imports I estimate that the elasticity of substitution between modes. I find no evidence that transport modes are substitutes and limited evidence they are complements.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International