What factors can influence house owners’ willingness to invest in environmentally improved on-site sewage systems?
Conference contribution, 2010
This paper explores the case of on-site sewage systems (OSSS) in Sweden with the purpose to identify what factors that influence individual house owners’ willingness to invest in new sewage systems and what makes them not. Such investments are needed, since release of nutrient-rich sewage water is one important cause of eutrophication of seas and lakes, not least of the environmentally vulnerable Baltic Sea. The situation is a social dilemma indeed: the responsibility - and hence the cost - lies with the property owner to invest in a sewage system with proper purification, while at the same time the benefits are collective and quite diffuse in space and time. However, the municipalities have a key role, because they are expected to translate national regulations into local standards while considering local circumstances. Hence, municipalities’ action is a potentially important factor for influencing individual behavior. However, the “failure” to implement proper OSSS is telling of the importance of other factors too. Potentially important factors are individuals’ trust in authorities and fellow citizens, adherence to different justice principles, as well as individually held beliefs, attitudes and norms. The paper will theoretically elaborate possible relations between these variables and in what way they may affect actors’ willingness to invest in environmentally improved on-site sewage systems.