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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 en- force 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 The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2009-23.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2009_23

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

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Jose Apesteguia & Patricia Funk and Nagore Iriberri, 2010. "Promoting Rule Compliance in Daily-Life: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in the Public Libraries of Barcelona," Working Papers 492, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Alstadsæter, Annette & Jacob, Martin, 2013. "The effect of awareness and incentives on tax evasion," arqus Discussion Papers in Quantitative Tax Research 147, arqus - Arbeitskreis Quantitative Steuerlehre.
  4. 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.
  5. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
  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. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2013. "Can Indifference Make the World Greener?," Working Paper Series 975, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.

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