Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Asking nicely may not cut it

Posted by Daniel Hall on September 22, 2007

China’s No Car Day doesn’t seem to have had much effect:

Cars have been banned on some central streets in Beijing and all drivers are being encouraged to leave their cars at home voluntarily. But correspondents say that in the capital National No Car Day appears to be making little impact. … The BBC’s James Reynolds in Beijing says that cars are coming and going as normal, and most streets in Beijing are not adhering to No Car Day.

Voluntary regulation generally won’t work without incentives for those being regulated. Those incentives don’t have to be money — you can appeal to people’s better natures and their desire to be good citizens. But generally once you start dealing with millions of people, you have a collective action problem that is going to require more than a, “Please be good!”

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