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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. 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, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center 2012-024, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  2. Jose Apesteguia & Patricia Funk & Nagore Iriberri, 2010. "Promoting rule compliance in daily-life: Evidence from a randomized field experiment in the public libraries of Barcelona," Economics Working Papers 1231, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Feb 2011.
  3. Robert Dur & Ben Vollaard, 2012. "The Power of a Bad Example - A Field Experiment in Household Garbage Disposal," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 12-061/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 10 Apr 2014.
  4. Annette Alstadsæter & Martin Jacob, 2013. "The Effect of Awareness and Incentives on Tax Evasion," CESifo Working Paper Series 4369, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Claudio Agostini & Claudia Martinez, 2013. "Tax Credits Response to Tax Enforcement: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in Chile," Working Papers, Adolfo Ibáñez University, School of Government wp_029, Adolfo Ibáñez University, School of Government.
  6. Cai, Jing & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2013. "Social Networks and the Decision to Insure," MPRA Paper 46861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. 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, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center 2013-018, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
  8. 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, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2012-054, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  9. Traxler, Christian, 2006. "Social Norms and Conditional Cooperative Taxpayers," Discussion Papers in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 1202, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Carlo Fiorio & Stefano Iacus & Alessandro Santoro, 2013. "Taxpaying response of small firms to an increased probability of audit: some evidence from Italy," Working Papers, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics 251, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2013.
  11. Sebastian Eichfelder & Chantal Kegels, 2012. "Compliance costs caused by agency action? Empirical evidence and implications for tax compliance," Schumpeter Discussion Papers, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library sdp12005, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.
  12. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2013. "Can Indifference Make the World Greener?," Research Papers in Economics, Stockholm University, Department of Economics 2013:12, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  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, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 25-53, February.
  14. 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, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2013-037, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.

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