Picking up on Michael’s post, here is an article written by a thoughtful economist on why there could be $20 bills lying around on the streets. In my Los Angeles, water is cheap and even electricity prices are low. If consumers faced higher water and electricity prices, we would see a faster diffusion of the products that Michael champions. I am in Rome right now and facing $6 a gallon gas — the entire vehicle fleet consists of two door tiny cars. People respond to incentives.
Sunstein and Thaler have stressed the power of the nudge in changing behavior. In the case of technology adoption, does one size “fit all”? If I simply drop off some free lightbulbs at your house, does this first taste hook you on the “green bulb” from now on? For some households the answer will be “yes” and for some households “no”. A serious social scientist should have a predictive model for determining which households are most susceptible to such a simple nudge. Will socio-economic status (i.e poor, or college graduate) predict the adoption decision? Will political identity play a key role in how the household responds to this nudge?