Fairness and Infringement on Freedom As Determinants of Private Car Users' Acceptance of Road Pricing
S Fujii, Tokyo Institute of Technology, JP; T Garling, C Jakobsson, Goteborg University, SE; R-C Jou, National Chi Nan University, TW
Few private car users would disagree that environmental problems due to car use are serious threats to people?s welfare (Jones, 1992). Despite this awareness, proposed solutions such as travel demand management (TDM) strategies may not be accepted if they incur higher costs for and/or require changes in car use. TDM strategies that may not be accepted include economic disincentives such as road pricing. In a critical discussion for and against road pricing, Emmerink, Nijkamp, and Rietveld (1995) concluded that these types of systems are ?first-best solutions? in theory but several problems make them failures in practice. One such problem is the lack of public and political acceptance (see reviews by Jones, 1992; Schlag & Teubel, 1997). At an individual level the problem with acceptance may stem from a misperception of the negative effects as being caused by others rather than by oneself (Sheldon, Scott, & Jones, 1993). Seale (1993) viewed road pricing as either problems of principle or practice. The main problem of principle he identified is a reduced support because of infringement on freedom: Individuals feel that they are giving up freedom by paying for something that has been free of charge.
These previous studies imply that public acceptance of road pricing would be increase if it is perceived to be fair, but decrease if it is perceived to infringe on peoples? freedom. This hypothesis was confirmed by Jakobsson et al. (2000) using data from a survey targeting at car owners living in Göteborg, Sweden. The objective of this study is to investigate whether this effects of fairness and infringement on freedom on acceptance of road pricing can be found in other countries whose cultures were different from Sweden, e.g. Asian countries including Japan or Taiwan. If we found the effects in different-culture countries, we might be able to more strongly assert that politicians and practitioners in diverse countries who plan to introduce road pricing scheme should care about drivers? perception of infringement on freedom and fairness, than if we did find the effects in limited countries. For the test of the hypothesis of effects of fairness and infringement on freedom using cross country data from Sweden (n = 524), from Japan (n = 150), and from Taiwan (n = 60), the effects were tested while using control variables of age, sex and environmental concern that may be differently distributed across different countries and that have effects on acceptance of road pricing (Fransson & Gärling, 1999).
Using the data, a regression analysis of acceptance of road pricing was implemented using endogenous variables of fairness, infringement on freedom, environmental concern, age, male dummy (= 1 if male; = 0 otherwise), Taiwan dummy (= 1 if data from Taiwan; = 0 otherwise), and Sweden dummy (= 1 if data from Sweden; = 0 otherwise). The result shows that fairness had a significant positive effect and infringement on freedom had a significant negative effect on acceptance of road pricing, as were hypothesized in the current study. This result indicated that the hypothesis in Jakobsson et al. (2000) that acceptance of road pricing increased as the road pricing was perceived to be fair and to be less infringing on freedom, might be valid not only in Sweden but also in the other countries. Due to this finding, we might be able to more strongly assert that politicians and practitioners in diverse countries who plan to introduce road pricing scheme should carefully design it in a way not to evoke peoples? feeling of unfair. In addition, the finding that infringement on freedom had effect on acceptance imply that they also care about drivers? perception of infringement on freedom about road pricing.
It was also found in the results of the regression analysis that standard coefficient of fairness was largest among those of explanatory variables. This result indicates that fairness had larger effect on acceptance of road pricing than any other explanatory variables including infringement on freedom. Although it was found that age had a marginally significant positive effect but male dummy did not have a significant effect on acceptance. It was also found that environmental concern did not have effect on acceptance. A coefficient of Sweden dummy was significant. This result indicates that acceptance in Sweden was lower than in Japan while controlling by explanatory variables used in the regression analysis. According to t test of a difference between coefficients of Sweden dummy and Taiwan dummy indicates that acceptance in Sweden is also lower than in Taiwan . It was indicated by the regression analysis that there is not a significant difference between acceptance in Taiwan and Japan.
The another regression analysis that took into account interaction effects between countries and farness and infringement on freedom, indicated that there was a significant difference of effect size of infringement on freedom among countries. The result indicates that effect of infringement on freedom on acceptance was significantly larger in Japan than in Sweden, but there was not a significant difference of effect of infringement on freedom between in Japan and in Taiwan. A t test of a difference of effect of infringement on freedom between in Taiwan and in Sweden did not indicate a significant difference. Since Jakobsson et al. (2000) found that a effect of infringement on freedom on acceptance of road pricing was significantly positive, this results can be interpreted that infringement on freedom had a significant effect in Sweden, Japan, and Taiwan although the effect of infringement on freedom in Japan was significantly larger than in Sweden. This result implies that infringement on freedom might be important for road pricing to be accepted in any countries.
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