PhD project: Motivations and Incentives for Pro-Environmental Behaviour

Photo: Hanna Fuhrmann, Researcher at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Hanna Fuhrmann ©DIE

In my PhD, I investigate how to promote pro-environmental behaviour based on insights form behavioural and experimental economics. The aim is to understand how and why people make certain decisions with regard to sustainable consumption and how incentives for more pro-environmental behaviour can be created. My field research focuses on the Peruvian context.

Peru is a particularly interesting case due to its rapidly growing middle class. With increasing wealth in the country, consumption patterns change as well – this offers opportunities and challenges for the environment at the same time. In order to support sustainable growth in the country, it is essential to understand already at an early stage how consumption choices are motivated and how sustainable decision-making can be encouraged.

In my first PhD paper, I examine the role of individual risk preferences, time preferences (patience) and social preferences (altruism, trust, reciprocity) for pro-environmental behaviour based on household surveys with 900 middle class households in Lima. For my second PhD paper, I am currently planning a field experiment in cooperation with a local municipality in Lima to promote active participation in the municipality’s recycling programme. The study primarily aims to examine the extent to which beliefs about the behaviour of other households as well as information about social norms influence the households’ own recycling behaviour.

The insights gained from my PhD can support policy-makers to design more effective policies and programmes for sustainable consumption in the Peruvian context and beyond.


Hanna Fuhrmann works in the reserach project “Sustainable Middle Classes in Middle Income Countries: Transforming Carbon Consumption Patterns (SMMICC)“ at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and is writing her dissertation at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. She studied economics in Münster, Madrid, Leuven and Cologne.

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