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Do non-enforceable contracts matter? Evidence from an international lab experiment

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Abstract

Many verifiable contracts are impossible or difficult to enforce. This applies to contracts among family and friends, contracts regulating market transactions, and sovereign debt contracts. Do such non-enforceable contracts matter? We use a version of the trust game with participants from Norway and Tanzania to study repayment decisions in the presence of non-enforceable loan contracts. Our main finding is that the specific content of the contract has no effect on loan repayment. Rather, the borrowers seem to be motivated by other moral motives, which contributes to explaining why they partly fulfill non-enforceable contracts. We also show that some borrowers violate the axiom of first order stochastic dominance when rejecting loan offers, which partly may reflect negative reciprocity, but also seems to reflect a fundame tal aversion against uncertainty.

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  • Cappelen, Alexander W. & Hagen, Rune Jansen & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2012. "Do non-enforceable contracts matter? Evidence from an international lab experiment," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 2/2012, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics, revised 03 Apr 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2012_002
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    Cited by:

    1. Markus Jäntti & Ravi Kanbur & Jukka Pirttilä, 2014. "Poverty, Development, and Behavioral Economics," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 1-6, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Non-enforceable contracts; Lab experiment.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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