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Environmentally Unfriendly Consumption Behaviour: Theoretical and Empirical Evidence from Private Motorists in Mexico City

Alva González, Miguel Ángel (2008): Environmentally Unfriendly Consumption Behaviour: Theoretical and Empirical Evidence from Private Motorists in Mexico City.

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This dissertation treats the topic of environmentally unfriendly consumption behaviour in relation to air pollution and the use of automobiles in Mexico City by analyzing three related aspects: i) relevant factors of driving patterns, ii) differences in the extent of pollution arising from environmentally friendlier vehicle use, and iii) the attitude of private motorists regarding the adoption of environmentally friendlier behaviour. The research includes not only economic but also social considerations. The specific objectives are to a) determine driving patterns specific to the Distrito Federal (core of the Mexico City Metropolitan Area), b) assess the behaviour of the driver regarding vehicle use and c) assess the conditions under which a switch to environmentally friendly alternatives related automobile use is possible. These objectives are analyzed using the approach of the Lancaster model of consumer behaviour with quantitative (the Distrito Federal’s Vehicle Verification Program 2003-2004 information) and qualitative (a Mexico City’s 2006 survey about consumers’ car preferences) data in three regression models: linear, logit and multinomial logit. The findings of the research are compared with the results of other related studies and with programs that have been implemented to date. The study demonstrates that several structural and behavioural factors determine the level of impact that private motorists have on urban air pollution. Also, it is demonstrated that the relation that motorists have with their vehicles revolves around function and use rather than simple ownership. In this sense, the more important results are that factors like income or purchase price do not explain automobile use; attitudes or personal attributes explain the behaviour much better than purely economic factors or the vehicle itself. One main conclusion is that the program implemented thus far to control vehicle use and alleviate air pollution in Mexico City has actually contributed to increased automobile use. In general, the approach applied demonstrates that sociological context is an intrinsic part of motorist choices regarding vehicle use, and that perceptions and attitudes influence motorists decisions.

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