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Lost in the Mail: A Field Experiment on Crime

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  • Marco Castillo
  • Ragan Petrie
  • Maximo Torero
  • Angelino Viceisza

Abstract

Crime in the mail sector can hamper the development of electronic markets. We use a field experiment to detect crime and measure its differential impacts. We subtly, and realistically, manipulate the content and information available in mail sent to households and detect high levels of shirking and stealing. Eighteen percent of the mail never arrived at its destination, and even more was lost if there was even a slight hint of something additional inside the envelope. Our study demonstrates that privatization has been unable to extricate moral hazard and that crime is strategic and not equally distributed across the population.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2009-01.

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Length: 29
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2009-01

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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Simeon Djankov & Rema Hanna & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2006. "Does corruption produce unsafe drivers?," Natural Field Experiments 00218, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Rafael Di Tella & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2004. "Do Police Reduce Crime? Estimates Using the Allocation of Police Forces After a Terrorist Attack," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 115-133, March.
  3. Olivier Armantier & Amadou Boly, 2008. "Can Corruption Be Studied in the Lab? Comparing a Field and a Lab Experiment," CIRANO Working Papers 2008s-26, CIRANO.
  4. Glaeser, Edward L & Sacerdote, Bruce & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-48, May.
  5. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1973. "Participation in Illegitimate Activities: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 521-65, May-June.
  6. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Mark Duggan & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Winning Isn't Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1594-1605, December.
  8. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
  9. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  10. Marianne Bertrand & Simeon Djankov & Rema Hanna & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2007. "Obtaining a Driver's License in India: An Experimental Approach to Studying Corruption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1639-1676, November.
  11. Raymond Fisman & Edward Miguel, 2007. "Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1020-1048, December.
  12. Benjamin A. Olken, 2007. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 200-249.
  13. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
  14. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence From a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 678-704, May.
  15. Di Tella, Rafael & Schargrodsky, Ernesto, 2003. "The Role of Wages and Auditing during a Crackdown on Corruption in the City of Buenos Aires," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(1), pages 269-92, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Chong, Alberto & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2014. "Letter Grading Government Efficiency," Scholarly Articles 12111439, Harvard University Department of Economics.

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