Perceived distributive fairness and public acceptance of a policy mandating on-site wastewater treatment and reuse

Josianne Kollmann*, Shreya Nath, Sneha Singh, Sahana Balasubramanian, Andreas Scheidegger, Nadja Contzen*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

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Throughout the world, climate change, rapid population growth, and urbanisation raise the need for reducing freshwater consumption. One solution are on-site systems that treat wastewater for non-potable reuse near its source of generation, for example within a building. Policies mandating their installation can effectively increase installation rates and have been implemented in several cities. Yet, such policies have the potential to impair distributive fairness in society and therefore also policy acceptance, because usually they cover only part of the population, which then has to carry most costs and risks. On the example of Bengaluru, India, where such a policy exists, this online study (N = 350) analysed whether policy acceptance can be explained by the perceived policy outcome for different groups of society (i.e. the distribution of the policy's costs, risks, and benefits among these groups), and whether this relation is mediated by perceived fairness. We further investigated whether these relations differed between participants covered and those not covered by the policy, since being personally affected may influence perceptions. Specifically, the outcomes for the following six groups were included: 1) participants themselves, 2) people covered by the policy, 3) people with a low income who are covered by the policy, 4) people vulnerable to water insecurity who are covered by the policy, 5) all inhabitants of Bengaluru taken together, and 6) the environment and future generations. A moderated mediation analysis showed that higher acceptance of the policy was explained by a higher perceived fairness, which, in turn, was explained by a better perceived outcome of the policy for different groups of society. Covered and non-covered participants differed with regard to which groups of society they considered for evaluating fairness. While a better perceived outcome for residents covered by the policy (compared with the outcome for those not covered) explained perceived fairness among all participants, it explained acceptance only among participants not covered by the policy. Further, and only among participants covered by the policy, perceived fairness was additionally explained by better perceived outcomes for the environment and future generations, which also explained higher acceptance among covered participants. It is discussed whether in the specific context, collective considerations may be more relevant than self-centred considerations to the perception of fairness and acceptance of the policy.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's11
TijdschriftJournal of Environmental Psychology
StatusPublished - jun.-2024


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