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An Experimental Study of Compliance and Leverage in Auditing and Regulatory Enforcement

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  • Timothy N. Cason
  • Lata Gangadharan

Abstract

Evidence suggests that individuals often comply with regulations even though the frequency of inspections and audits is low. We report a laboratory experiment based on the dynamic model suggested by Harrington (1988) to explain this puzzle in which participants move between two inspection groups that differ in the probability of inspection and severity of fine. Enforcement leverage arises in the Harrington model from movement between the groups based on previous observed compliance and noncompliance. We find that compliance behavior does not change as sharply as the model predicts. A simple model of bounded rationality explains these deviations from optimal behavior. (JEL C91, Q20, Q28) Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 44 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 352-366

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:44:y:2006:i:2:p:352-366

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References

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  1. Torgler, Benno, 2002. " Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-83, December.
  2. Alm, James & Cronshaw, Mark B & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Tax Compliance with Endogenous Audit Selection Rules," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 27-45.
  3. Jeremy Clark & Lana Friesen & Andrew Muller, 2004. "The Good, the Bad, and the Regulator: An Experimental Test of Two Conditional Audit Schemes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 42(1), pages 69-87, January.
  4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  5. Harford, Jon D., 1978. "Firm behavior under imperfectly enforceable pollution standards and taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 26-43, March.
  6. Philip A. Haile & Ali Hortacsu & Grigory Kosenok, 2004. "On the Empirical Content of Quantal Response Equilibrium," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm421, Yale School of Management.
  7. Linder, Stephen H. & McBride, Mark E., 1984. "Enforcement costs and regulatory reform: The agency and firm response," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 327-346, December.
  8. Eckert, Heather, 2004. "Inspections, warnings, and compliance: the case of petroleum storage regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 232-259, March.
  9. Landsberger, Michael & Meilijson, Isaac, 1982. "Incentive generating state dependent penalty system : The case of income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 333-352, December.
  10. Timothy N. Cason & Lata Gangadharan, 2004. "Emissions Variability in Tradable Permit Markets with Imperfect Enforcement and Banking," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 917, The University of Melbourne.
  11. Harrington, Winston, 1988. "Enforcement leverage when penalties are restricted," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 29-53, October.
  12. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty & McKee, Michael, 1992. "Institutional Uncertainty and Taxpayer Compliance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1018-26, September.
  13. James Alm & Michael McKee, 1998. "Extending the lessons of laboratory experiments on tax compliance to managerial and decision economics," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 259-275.
  14. Friesen, Lana, 2003. "Targeting enforcement to improve compliance with environmental regulations," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 72-85, July.
  15. Storey, D J & McCabe, P J, 1980. "The Criminal Waste Discharger," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 27(1), pages 30-40, February.
  16. Salop, Steven C & Scheffman, David T, 1983. "Raising Rivals' Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 267-71, May.
  17. Oljaca, Neda & Keeler, Andrew G & Dorfman, Jeffrey, 1998. "Penalty Functions for Environmental Violations: Evidence from Water Quality Enforcement," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 255-64, November.
  18. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bigoni, Maria & Le Coq, Chloé & Fridolfsson, Sven-Olof & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2008. "Risk Aversion, Prospect Theory, and Strategic Risk in Law Enforcement: Evidence From an Antitrust Experiment," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 696, Stockholm School of Economics.
  2. Maarten Lindeboom & Bas van der Klaauw & Sandra Vriend, 2014. "Audit Rates and Compliance: A Field Experiment in Long-term Care," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 14-038/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata, 2006. "Emissions variability in tradable permit markets with imperfect enforcement and banking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 199-216, October.
  4. Tan, Fangfang & Yim, Andrew, 2014. "Can strategic uncertainty help deter tax evasion? An experiment on auditing rules," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 161-174.
  5. Takayoshi Shinkuma & Shunsuke Managi, 2012. "Effectiveness of policy against illegal disposal of waste," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 14(2), pages 123-145, April.
  6. Giorgio Coricelli & Matteus Joffily & Claude Montmarquette & Marie Claire Villeval, 2010. "Cheating, Emotions, and Rationality: An Experiment on Tax Evasion," Post-Print halshs-00462067, HAL.
  7. Lana Friesen, 2009. "Certainty of Punishment versus Severity of Punishment- An Experimental Investigation," Discussion Papers Series 400, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.

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