Do exemptions undermine environmental policy support? An experimental stress test on the odd‐even road space rationing policy in India

Thomas Bernauer, Aseem Prakash and Liam F. Beiser‐McGrath, 12 October 2018,

Policies sometimes exempt particular categories of regulatees for reasons of equity and political feasibility. Will the non‐exempt oppose the policy because they shoulder all of the policy costs? We outline an analytic framework for “stress testing” public support among the non‐exempt when they are provided negative information about exemptions and reduced policy effectiveness. Empirically, we study public support for the odd‐even road space rationing policy in India. Using a survey experiment with 2,182 car owners in Bangalore, we find considerable baseline support for this policy. While support among the non‐exempt erodes when they are told about exemptions, there is no additional erosion when they are told that exemptions reduce policy effectiveness. This suggests that the perception of fairness, not policy efficacy, drives the erosion of support among the non‐exempt. Yet the policy survives the stress test because the majority of respondents continue to support it, in spite of support erosion among the non‐exempt.

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