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A Behavioral Laffer Curve: Emergence of a Social Norm of Fairness in a Real Effort Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Louis Lévy-Garboua

    () (PSE - Paris School of Economics, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal)

  • David Masclet

    (CIRANO - Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations - UQAM - Université du Québec à Montréal , CREM - Centre de recherche en économie et management - UNICAEN - Université de Caen Normandie - NU - Normandie Université - UR1 - Université de Rennes 1 - UNIV-RENNES - Université de Rennes - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Claude Montmarquette

    () (CIRANO - Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche en ANalyse des Organisations)

Abstract

This paper demonstrates, through a controlled experiment, that the "Laffer curve" phenomenon does not always reflect a conventional income - leisure trade-off. Whether out of reason or out of emotion, taxpayers may also be willing to punish intentionally unfair tax setters by working less than they would under the same exogenous circumstances. We conduct a real effort experiment in which a player A (the "tax receiver") is matched with a player B (the "worker") to elicit the conditions under which tax revenues will increase under a certain threshold and decrease thereafter. We ran four different treatments by manipulating work opportunities and the power to tax. Consistent with the history of tax revolts, the working partner overreacts to the perceived unfairness of taxation when the tax rate exceeds 50%, most strongly so in the high effort treatment. With two types of players, selfish and empathic, our model predicts the emergence of a social norm of fairness under asymmetric information, and elicits the optimal and emotional patterns of punishments and rewards consistent with the norm's enforcement. The social norm allows players to coordinate tacitly on a "focal equilibrium", which offers a solution to the indeterminacy raised by the Folk theorem for infinitely-repeated games and a behavioral justification for the tit-for-tat strategy. The social norm of fairness enhances productive efficiency in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Louis Lévy-Garboua & David Masclet & Claude Montmarquette, 2009. "A Behavioral Laffer Curve: Emergence of a Social Norm of Fairness in a Real Effort Experiment," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00350260, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00350260
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2008.09.002
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00350260
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kai A. Konrad & Florian Morath & Wieland Müller, 2014. "Taxation and Market Power," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 47(1), pages 173-202, February.
    2. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Matthews, Peter Hans & Tabb, Benjamin, 2016. "Progressive taxation in a tournament economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 64-72.
    3. Alexandru Minea & Patrick Villieu, 2009. "Impôt, déficit et croissance économique : un réexamen de la courbe de Laffer," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 119(4), pages 653-675.
    4. Emanuela Lezzi & Piers Fleming & Daniel John Zizzo, 2015. "Does it matter which effort task you use? A comparison of four effort tasks when agents compete for a prize," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 15-05, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    5. Tobias Koenig & Andreas Wagener, 2010. "Tax Structure and Government Expenditures under Tax Equity Norms," CESifo Working Paper Series 3205, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Koenig, Tobias & Wagener, Andreas, 2013. "Tax structure and government expenditures with tax equity concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 137-153.
    7. repec:rss:jnljfe:v4i1p6 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:kap:jbuset:v:148:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3031-z is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Deniz Nebioglu & Ayca Ebru Giritligil, 2018. "Wealth Effects and Labor Supply: An Experimental Study," BELIS Working Papers 2018-01, BELIS, Istanbul Bilgi University.

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