IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Tax morale and conditional cooperation

  • Frey, Bruno S.
  • Torgler, Benno

Why so many people pay their taxes, although fines and audit probability are low, has become a central question in the tax compliance literature. A homo economicus, with a more refined motivation structure, helps us to shed light on this puzzle. This paper provides empirical evidence for the relevance of conditional cooperation, using survey data from 30 West and East European countries. We find a high correlation between perceived tax evasion and tax morale. The results remain robust after exploiting endogeneity and conducting several robustness tests. We also observe a strong positive correlation between institutional quality and tax morale.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 35 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 136-159

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:35:y:2007:i:1:p:136-159
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Bruno S. Frey, 1997. "Not Just for the Money," Books, Edward Elgar, number 1183, March.
  2. Iris Bohnet & Richard Zeckhauser, 2004. "Social Comparisons in Ultimatum Bargaining," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 495-510, October.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Economics Working Papers 97-251, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2006. "Heterogeneous social preferences and the dynamics of free riding in public goods," Discussion Papers 2006-01, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  5. Nauro F. Campos & Fabrizio Coricelli, 2002. "Growth in Transition: What We Know, What We Don't, and What We Should," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 470, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  6. Frey, Bruno S. & Meier, Stephan, 2004. "Pro-social behavior in a natural setting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 65-88, May.
  7. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  8. Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Joseph Henrich & Richard McElreath & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "In search of homo economicus: Experiments in 15 small-scale societies," Artefactual Field Experiments 00068, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Bardsley, Nicholas & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in public good provision," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 664-681, October.
  10. Wolfgang Kasper & Manfred E. Streit, 1999. "Institutional Economics," Books, Edward Elgar, number 1582, March.
  11. Fehr, Ernst & Falk, Armin, 2002. "Psychological foundations of incentives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 687-724, May.
  12. Keser, Claudia & van Winden, Frans, 2000. " Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 23-39, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Sonnemans, Joep & Schram, Arthur & Offerman, Theo, 1999. "Strategic behavior in public good games: when partners drift apart," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 35-41, January.
  15. Rupert Sausgruber, 2005. "Testing for Team Spirit - An Experimental Study," Experimental 0508001, EconWPA.
  16. J. Ochs & Alvin E. Roth, 1998. "An experimental study of sequential bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 331, David K. Levine.
  17. Benno Torgler, 2003. "Tax Morale in Transition Countries," Working papers 2003/01, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  18. James Alm & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2005. "Russian Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes ? Before, During, and After the Transition," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-27, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  19. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  20. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 2000. "Shadow Economies Around the World: Size, Causes, and Consequences," IMF Working Papers 00/26, International Monetary Fund.
  21. Kornai, Janos, 1990. "The Affinity between Ownership Forms and Coordination Mechanisms: The Common Experience of Reform in Socialist Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 131-47, Summer.
  22. Pommerehne, Werner W & Weck-Hannemann, Hannelore, 1996. " Tax Rates, Tax Administration and Income Tax Evasion in Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(1-2), pages 161-70, July.
  23. Henrich, Joseph, 2004. "Cultural group selection, coevolutionary processes and large-scale cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 3-35, January.
  24. James Alm & Benno Torgler, 2004. "Culture Differences and Tax Morale in the United States and in Europe," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-14, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  25. Bruno S. Frey & Stephan Meier, 2004. "Social Comparisons and Pro-social Behavior: Testing "Conditional Cooperation" in a Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1717-1722, December.
  26. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  27. Alm, James & Jackson, Betty R. & McKee, Michael, 1993. "Fiscal exchange, collective decision institutions, and tax compliance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 285-303, December.
  28. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  29. Feld, Lars P & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2002. "Tax Evasion and Voting: An Experimental Analysis," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 197-222.
  30. Vesterlund, Lise, 2003. "The informational value of sequential fundraising," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 627-657, March.
  31. Benno Torgler, 2003. "The Importance of Faith: Tax Morale and Religiosity," CREMA Working Paper Series 2003-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  32. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Robert McNab, 2000. "Tax Reform in The Tax Reform Experiment in Transitional Countries," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0001, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  33. Pommerehne, Werner W & Hart, Albert & Frey, Bruno S, 1994. "Tax Morale, Tax Evasion and the Choice of Policy Instruments in Different Political Systems," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 52-69.
  34. Weigel, Russell H. & Hessing, Dick J. & Elffers, Henk, 1987. "Tax evasion research: A critical appraisal and theoretical model," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 215-235, June.
  35. Bruno S. Frey & Lars P. Feld, 2002. "Deterrence and Morale in Taxation: An Empirical Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 760, CESifo Group Munich.
  36. Elffers, Henk & Weigel, Russell H. & Hessing, Dick J., 1987. "The consequences of different strategies for measuring tax evasion behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 311-337, September.
  37. Baldry, Jonathan C, 1987. "Income Tax Evasion and the Tax Schedule: Some Experimental Results," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 42(3), pages 357-83.
  38. Levin, Mark & Satarov, Georgy, 2000. "Corruption and institutions in Russia," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 113-132, March.
  39. Ronald G. Cummings & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Michael McKee & Benno Torgler, 2005. "Effects of Tax Morale on Tax Compliance: Experimental and Survey Evidence," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-29, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  40. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  41. Claudia Keser & Frans A.A.M. van Winden, 2000. "Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-011/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  42. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gächter, . "Living in Two Neighborhoods - Social Interactions in the Lab," IEW - Working Papers 150, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  43. Groenland, Edward A. G. & van Veldhoven, Gery M., 1983. "Tax evasion behavior: A psychological framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 129-144, June.
  44. Benno Torgler & Christoph A. Schaltegger & Markus Schaffner, 2003. "Is Forgiveness Divine? A Cross-Culture Comparison of Tax Amnesties," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 139(III), pages 375-396, September.
  45. Benno Torgler, 2002. "Does Culture Matter? Tax Morale in East-West-German Comparison," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 59(4), pages 504-, December.
  46. Tobias Heldt, 2005. "Conditional cooperation in the field: Cross-country skiers' behavior in sweden," Natural Field Experiments 00268, The Field Experiments Website.
  47. Wenzel, Michael & Taylor, Natalie, 2004. "An experimental evaluation of tax-reporting schedules: a case of evidence-based tax administration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2785-2799, December.
  48. Simon Gaechter, 2006. "Conditional cooperation: Behavioral regularities from the lab and the field and their policy implications," Discussion Papers 2006-03, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  49. John Randal & Richard Martin, 2005. "Voluntary contributions to a public good: A natural field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00306, The Field Experiments Website.
  50. Torgler, Benno, 2005. "Tax morale and direct democracy," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 525-531, June.
  51. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H & Schulze, William D, 1999. "Changing the Social Norm of Tax Compliance by Voting," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 141-71.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:35:y:2007:i:1:p:136-159. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.