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Loss evasion and tax aversion

  • Engström, Per


    (Dept of Economics and Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies (UCFS), Uppsala University)

  • Nordblom, Katarina


    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Ohlsson, Henry


    (Dept of Economics and Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies (UCFS), Uppsala University)

  • Persson, Annika

    (The Swedish Tax Agency)

The objective of this paper is to study if taxpayers behave in a loss averse manner when filing their tax returns. This is important for tax design but also for understanding human behavior in general. The predictions of prospect theory can be contrasted to those of expected utility theory. We use data for 3.6 million Swedish taxpayers for the income year 2006. Our research method is quasi-experimental using a regression kink and discontinuity approach. We also use an alternative instrumental-variables approach. There is strong evidence of loss aversion. We estimate the coefficient of loss aversion using actual behavior and the instrument-variables approach. Our estimate is very close to the estimates reported in the experimental literature.

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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 518.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 29 Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0518
Note: Katarina Nordblom is also working at UCFS.
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page:

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  1. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:2:p:647-61 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  3. Simon Gaechter & Eric Johnson & Andreas Herrmann, 2007. "Individual-Level Loss Aversion In Riskless And Risky Choices," Discussion Papers 2007-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  4. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1992. " Advances in Prospect Theory: Cumulative Representation of Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 297-323, October.
  5. Ulrich Schmidt & Horst Zank, 2005. "What is Loss Aversion?," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 157-167, January.
  6. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:106:y:1991:i:4:p:1039-61 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, . "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 323, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:4:p:1133-1165 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Robben, Henry S. J. & Webley, Paul & Elffers, Henk & Hessing, Dick J., 1990. "Decision frames, opportunity and tax evasion : An experimental approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 353-361, December.
  10. Sanjit Dhami & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2005. "Why Do People Pay Taxes? Prospect Theory Versus Expected Utility Theory," Discussion Papers in Economics 05/23, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Aug 2006.
  11. Schmidt, Ulrich & Traub, Stefan, 2002. " An Experimental Test of Loss Aversion," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 233-49, November.
  12. Devin G. Pope & Maurice E. Schweitzer, 2011. "Is Tiger Woods Loss Averse? Persistent Bias in the Face of Experience, Competition, and High Stakes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 129-57, February.
  13. Koszegi, Botond & Rabin, Matthew, 2004. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt0w82b6nm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. H. Bleichrodt & C. Paraschiv & Mohammed Abdellaoui, 2007. "Loss Aversion Under Prospect Theory: A Parameter-Free Measurement," Post-Print hal-00457047, HAL.
  15. Michele Bernasconi & Alberto Zanardi, 2004. "Tax Evasion, Tax Rates, and Reference Dependence," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(3), pages 422-, September.
  16. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:110:y:1995:i:1:p:73-92 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  18. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:2:p:479-505 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Slemrod, Joel, et al, 1997. "April 15 Syndrome," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 695-709, October.
  20. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1993. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 4369, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Kobberling, Veronika & Wakker, Peter P., 2005. "An index of loss aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 119-131, May.
  22. Yaniv, Gideon, 1999. "Tax Compliance and Advance Tax Payments: A Prospect Theory Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 4), pages 753-64, December.
  23. Kirchler, Erich & Maciejovsky, Boris, 2001. "Tax compliance within the context of gain and loss situations, expected and current asset position, and profession," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 173-194, April.
  24. Mohammed Abdellaoui & Han Bleichrodt & Olivier L’Haridon, 2008. "A tractable method to measure utility and loss aversion under prospect theory," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 245-266, June.
  25. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  26. Terrance Odean, 1998. "Are Investors Reluctant to Realize Their Losses?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(5), pages 1775-1798, October.
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