Research

Selected Publications

Meier, J., Andor, M. A., Doebbe, F. C., Haddaway, N. R., & Reisch, L. A. (2022). Review: Do green defaults reduce meat consumption? Food Policy, 110, 102298.

Meat consumption and production cause a significant share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the food sector. Behavioural food policy suggests using defaults – i.e., pre-setting a specific choice option – as an effective demand-side instrument to reduce meat consumption. This systematic review compiles, critically appraises, and synthesises existing empirical evidence on defaults that aim to reduce meat consumption. Beyond that, the underlying mechanisms and potential effect moderators in this context are explored. Our synthesis includes twelve individual studies comprising sixteen different default interventions. Although the extent of evidence is limited, we assess the quality to be relatively good. We find that defaults are effective in nudging consumers to eat less meat; despite heterogeneity in the design and implementation of interventions, virtually all studies find the default to reduce meat consumption. Moreover, our explorative analysis provides insights into how the default works in this context. First, we suppose the default primarily operates through the underlying mechanisms of endorsement and effort. Second, we identify four contextual moderators – namely the default’s invasiveness, the recognisability and presentation of the alternative, and the objective of the study setting – that appear to influence the impact. We conclude that defaults are a promising tool for climate-sensitive food policy. Future research could verify and quantify the causal impact of mechanisms and moderators, and assess defaults’ long-term and large-scale effectiveness. 

Available here ; and related to this publication see articles in e.g., FAZ and 360info

Reisch, L. A., Sunstein, C. R., Andor, M. A., Doebbe, F. C., Meier, J., & Haddaway, N. R. (2021). Mitigating climate change via food consumption and food waste: A systematic map of behavioral interventions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 279, 123717.

Demand-side policies for mitigating climate change based on behavioral insights are gaining increased attention in research and practice. Here we describe a systematic map that catalogues existing research on behaviorally informed interventions targeting changes in consumer food consumption and food waste behavior. The purpose is to gain an overview of research foci and gaps, providing an evidence base for deeper analysis. In terms of food consumption, we focus on animal protein (meat, fish, dairy, and eggs) and its substitutes. The map follows the standards for evidence synthesis from the Collaboration for Environmental Evidence (CEE) as well as the RepOrting Standards for Systematic Evidence Syntheses (ROSES). We identified 49 articles including 56 separate studies, as well as 18 literature reviews. We find a variety of study designs with a focus on canteen and restaurant studies as well as a steep increase of publications since 2016. We create an interactive evidence atlas that plots these studies across geographical space. Here, we find a concentration of research in the Anglo-Saxon world. Most studies follow multi-intervention designs and focus on actual food consumption behavior, fewer on food waste behavior. We identify knowledge clusters amenable for a systematic review focusing on the effectiveness of these interventions, namely: priming, disclosure, defaults, social norms, micro-environment changes, and ease of use. The systematic map highlights knowledge gaps, where more primary research is needed and evidence cannot support policy; it identifies knowledge clusters, where sufficient studies exist but there is a lack of clarity over effectiveness, and so full synthesis can be conducted rapidly; finally, it reveals patterns in research methods that can highlight best practices and issues with methodology that can support the improvement of primary evidence production and mitigation of research waste. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first systematic study mapping this specific area. 

 Available here.

Working Paper

Kupzig, N., Kupzig, J., & Meier, J.  An Augmented Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) and a new measure for water pollution – Evidence from Africa.

Water pollution constitutes an increasingly urgent problem worldwide. This study investigates an augmented Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) considering trade and institutional quality for water pollution in Africa. Using data from 2002 to 2016 for 42 African countries, we employ static and dynamic panel estimation techniques. As a novel feature, we use newly estimated data on water pollution from the WorldQual model, the global water quality model of the WaterGAP3 Framework. We find evidence for an EKC relationship using static but not dynamic estimation techniques. Our results suggest that institutional quality is pollution-increasing, while the effect of trade on water pollution is inconclusive. Moreover, we find that the interaction term of institutional quality and trade is pollution-decreasing. Thus, at high levels of trade, an increase in institutional quality is associated with less water pollution, while at low levels of trade, an increase is associated with high pollution.  

SSRN version available here.

Work in Progress