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The information method - theory and application

  • Engström, Per


    (Nationalekonomiska institutionen)

  • Hesselius, Patrik


    (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

When estimating the extent of e.g. excess use of public benefits one traditionally uses direct monitoring. Such direct estimates are afflicted with an intrinsic negative bias since you only count what you find. This paper presents and assesses an alternative intuitive, yet relatively unexplored, approach that may reduce the bias by making use of the individual's own response to information of increased monitoring. Through an extensive randomized social experiment we apply the method to one particular Swedish public benefit: Parental Benefit for Temporary Childcare. In our view the application was successful: the results are interpretable and we are able to surface more hidden excess use through the information method. As a rough estimate we find that the information based estimate of excess use is 40 percent higher than the corresponding estimate based on ordinary random monitoring (22.5 percent compared to 16 percent). The method is potentially applicable to a large number of related fields, such as e.g. tax evasion and insurance fraud.

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Paper provided by IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy in its series Working Paper Series with number 2007:17.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 20 Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2007_017
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  1. Stijn Viaene & Guido Dedene, 2004. "Insurance Fraud: Issues and Challenges," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 29(2), pages 313-333, April.
  2. Engström, Per & Hesselius, Patrik & Persson, Malin, 2007. "Excess use of Temporary Parental Benefit," Working Paper Series 2007:18, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. van den Berg, Gerard J & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2001. "Counselling and Monitoring of Unemployed Workers: Theory and Evidence from a Controlled Social Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2986, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Peter Fredriksson & Bertil Holmlund, 2006. "Improving Incentives in Unemployment Insurance: A Review of Recent Research," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 357-386, 07.
  5. Lindsay M. Tedds, 2004. "Nonparametric expenditure-based estimation of income under-reporting and the underground economy," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-17, McMaster University.
  6. Holmlund, B., 1997. "Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Papers 1997-25, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  7. Pissarides, Christopher A. & Weber, Guglielmo, 1989. "An expenditure-based estimate of Britain's black economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-32, June.
  8. Charles Christian & Joel Slemrod & Marsha Blumenthal, 2001. "Taxpayer response to an increased probability of audit: Evidence from a controlled experiment in minnesota," Natural Field Experiments 00332, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Sandmo, Agnar, 2005. "The Theory of Tax Evasion: A Retrospective View," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 58(4), pages 643-63, December.
  10. Per Engström & Bertil Holmlund, 2006. "Tax Evasion and Self-Employment in a High-Tax Country: Evidence from Sweden," CESifo Working Paper Series 1736, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Coleman, Stephen, 1996. "The Minnesota income tax compliance experiment: State tax results," MPRA Paper 4827, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Larsson, Laura, 2005. "Monitoring sickness insurance claimants: evidence from a social experiment," Working Paper Series 2005:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
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