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Are the Japanese more willing to sacrifice for conservation?

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Itsuo Inouye / AP

(Read caption) Visitors look at Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles on display at Toyota Motor Corp.'s showroom in Tokyo Tuesday, July 6, 2010. Toyota's Prius ranked as Japan's top-selling car in June. Is the Japanese culture more nurturing of conservation than the US culture?

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In Japan today, there an increasingly urgent effort to conserve on electricity consumption. While most economists would suggest that the price mechanism could be used to discourage use (see Frank Wolak's study), an alternative strategy is peer pressure, "shame and ostracism" and relying on guilt. UCLA scholars have been studying how UCLA students respond to information about their relative electricity consumption to see if our impressive students can be nudged to change their behavior.

But, back to Japan. Here is an impressive quote from the NY Times article;

"In the Tokyo area, the government is pushing to cut electricity use by 15 percent between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays to prevent blackouts — and on Thursday, for example, that target was met compared with last year.

Japanese are bringing to the conservation drive a characteristic combination of national fervor, endurance, sloganeering, technology and social coercion.


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