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Collective vs Individual Incentive: A Preliminary Analysis on the Case of Environmental Competitive Challenges in Napoli, Italy

Vincenzo Alfano, Armando Vittoria


Which incentives are stronger in creating a desirable behaviour through the spreading of a social norm: the ones that work on collective benefits of the individual ones? This is a question which has been differently addressed by the economic literature, and has presented nuanced evidence when faced empirically. The spreading of a social norm is especially important and interesting in the case of waste recycling. Indeed, it is a typical behaviour in which a small personal effort creates a huge collective advantage. At the same time, it is easy to free ride and avoid to recycle, since the cost are spread on a large amount of people. The city of Napoli, Italy has seen two different environmental challenges, a form of policy aimed to spread a social norm of waste recycling, in a short time span. This is an interesting quasi-experimental setting, useful to conduct a preliminary analysis on the effects of collectives versus individual incentives in spreading desirable recycling behaviour. Our preliminary findings suggest that collective incentives have better results in spreading this kind of social norms.


Social norms, waste recycling, recycling policy, collective incentives.

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