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Social norms or enforcement? A natural field experiment to improve traffic and parking fine compliance

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  • Sinning, Mathias
  • Zhang, Yinjunjie

Abstract

Very little is known about the efficient collection of fines despite their indispensable contribution to local government budgets. This paper fills an important gap in the literature by studying the effectiveness of deterrence (enforcement) and non-deterrence (social norms) letters that aim to improve the collection of traffic and parking fines. We present results from a natural field experiment implemented in collaboration with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government. We find that both letters increase fine payments significantly. The effect of the enforcement letter is stronger than that of the social norms letter. Our analysis of heterogenous treatment effects indicates that addressing social norms does not change the behavior of young offenders, those who committed a speeding offence, those with a long outstanding debt and those with a debt above the median. In contrast, the enforcement letter is generally effective across subgroups.

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  • Sinning, Mathias & Zhang, Yinjunjie, 2023. "Social norms or enforcement? A natural field experiment to improve traffic and parking fine compliance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 210(C), pages 43-60.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:210:y:2023:i:c:p:43-60
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2023.03.029
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    Cited by:

    1. Eko Arief Yogama & Daniel J. Gray & Matthew D. Rablen, 2023. "Nudging for Prompt Tax Penalty Payment: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," CESifo Working Paper Series 10836, CESifo.
    2. Libor Dušek & Nicolas Pardo & Christian Traxler, 2022. "Salience and Timely Compliance: Evidence from Speeding Tickets," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 41(2), pages 426-449, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fine compliance; Natural field experiment; Nudges; Enforcement; Social norms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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