Corporate social responsibility and the economics of consumer social responsibility

The promotion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is likely to depend on consumers’ purchase behaviors. While many consumers like the idea of social responsibility, the responsible consumption remains at a low level. This survey analyses two main barriers to responsible consumption: the willingness-to-pay for it, which relates to consumer social preferences; and the information asymmetry between companies and consumers. The economic literature shows that consumer social preferences are related to altruistic, self-image and social image concerns. Only consumers with strong social preferences and a low marginal utility of income (a high income) are likely to purchase CSR products. Moreover, purchase decisions crucially depend on the existence of labels, which truthfully identify the CSR products. Public policies may promote consumer social responsibility through education programs, enhancement of self- and social-image concerns, and careful label regulation.

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Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies - Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement (RAEStud), 94, 2
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