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Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information

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  • Gerlinde Fellner
  • Rupert Sausgruber
  • Christian Traxler

Abstract

We run a large-scale natural field experiment to evaluate alternative strategies to enforce compliance with the law. The experiment varies the text of mailings sent to potential evaders of TV license fees. We find a strong alert effect of mailings, leading to a substantial increase in compliance. Among different mailing conditions a legal threat that stresses a high detection risk has a significant and highly robust deterrent effect. Neither appealing to morals nor imparting information about others’ behavior enhances compliance. However, the information condition has a positive effect in municipalities where evasion is believed to be common. Overall, the economic model of crime performs remarkably well in explaining our data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2787.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2787

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Keywords: field experiments; law enforcement; compliance; deterrence;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Robert Dur & Ben Vollaard, 2014. "The Power of a Bad Example - A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal," CESifo Working Paper Series 4753, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (replaced by TILEC DP 2013-006)," Discussion Paper 2012-024, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  3. Apesteguia, Jose & Funk, Patricia & Iriberri, Nagore, 2013. "Promoting rule compliance in daily-life: Evidence from a randomized field experiment in the public libraries of Barcelona," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 266-284.
  4. Annette Alstadsæter & Martin Jacob, 2013. "The Effect of Awareness and Incentives on Tax Evasion," CESifo Working Paper Series 4369, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2013. "Can Indifference Make the World Greener?," Research Papers in Economics 2013:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  6. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (replaced by CentER DP 2013-018)," Discussion Paper 2012-054, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  7. Cai, Jing & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2013. "Social Networks and the Decision to Insure," MPRA Paper 46861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Sebastian Eichfelder & Chantal Kegels, 2012. "Compliance costs caused by agency action? Empirical evidence and implications for tax compliance," Schumpeter Discussion Papers sdp12005, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
  9. Claudio Agostini & Claudia Martinez, 2013. "Tax Credits Response to Tax Enforcement: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in Chile," Working Papers wp_029, Adolfo Ibáñez University, School of Government.
  10. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2013. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (Revision of TILEC DP 2013-006)," Discussion Paper 2013-018, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  11. Dur, R. & Vollaard, B.A., 2013. "The Power of a Bad Example – A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal (Revision of CentER DP 2013-018)," Discussion Paper 2013-037, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  12. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
  13. Joel Slemrod & Caroline Weber, 2012. "Evidence of the invisible: toward a credibility revolution in the empirical analysis of tax evasion and the informal economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 25-53, February.
  14. Carlo Fiorio & Stefano Iacus & Alessandro Santoro, 2013. "Taxpaying response of small firms to an increased probability of audit: some evidence from Italy," Working Papers 251, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.

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