“The more people read about the drought, the more water they conserved”

From News Deeply:

A new study of the recent California drought finds that people started cutting back on water use, even before state and local agencies imposed mandatory water conservation measures.  The reason:  Intense media coverage of the drought.

In the study, researchers at Stanford’s Water in the West program found a strong correlation between municipal water use and media coverage of the drought, as measured by the frequency of hits in a Google search.

They found that controlling for other factors, water use in single-family residences fell by about 11 – 18 percent for every extra 100 drought-related articles published over a two month period.

Said one of the researchers:

I have worked in this field for the past 15 or 20 years, and I have never seen as much interest in the topic as I saw in those years. In social situations, as soon as I would mention what I do, everyone would be very interested and try to engage, tell me what it is they are doing to help us deal with the drought. …  [It is] a demonstration of the power that the media holds …

Published by

Mark Kanazawa

I am Wadsworth A. Williams Professor of Economics at Carleton College, Northfield, MN