IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Tax Avoidance, Endogenous Social Norms, and the Comparison Income Effect

  • Alessandro Balestrino

    (University of Pisa)

We present a model of income tax avoidance with heterogenous agents, assuming the presence of a comparison income effect and of a psychic cost (disutility) of tax dodging. We analyse the policy preferences of the agents, and identify a median-voter political equilibrium. Paralleling previous results in the optimal taxation literature, we show that the comparison income effect calls for a high degree of progressivity of the income tax; additionally, we find that this tendence is strenghtened by the psychic cost of avoidance. We then investigate the source of the stigma attached to the act of avoidance and find that such stigma is motivated by the desire to make redistribution more effective, and that it is enhanced by the income comparison effect.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 05-15.

in new window

Length: 16 pages
Date of creation:
Date of revision: Dec 2005
Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:05-15
Contact details of provider: Postal: Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 26, DK-1353 Copenhagen K., Denmark
Phone: (+45) 3532 4411
Fax: +45 35 32 30 00
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Lundholm, Michael, 2001. "Social Norms and Moral Hazard," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 506-25, July.
  2. Ernst Fehr, 2003. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," Microeconomics 0305010, EconWPA.
  3. Gans, Joshua S. & Smart, Michael, 1996. "Majority voting with single-crossing preferences," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 219-237, February.
  4. Friedman, Eric & Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 2000. "Dodging the grabbing hand: the determinants of unofficial activity in 69 countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 459-493, June.
  5. Lindbeck, Assar & Persson, Mats, 2006. "A Model of Income Insurance and Social Norms," Working Paper Series 659, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  6. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
  7. Orviska, Marta & Hudson, John, 2003. "Tax evasion, civic duty and the law abiding citizen," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 83-102, March.
  8. Armin Falk & Markus Knell, 2004. "Choosing the Joneses: Endogenous Goals and Reference Standards," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 417-435, October.
  9. Wojciech Kopczuk, 2003. "Tax Bases, Tax Rates and the Elasticity of Reported Income," NBER Working Papers 10044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Cowell, F A, 1990. "Tax Sheltering and the Cost of Evasion," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(1), pages 231-43, January.
  11. Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1978. "Intermediate Preferences and the Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 317-30, March.
  12. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-92, May.
  13. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  14. Joel Slemrod, 2001. "A General Model of the Behavioral Response to Taxation," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 119-128, March.
  15. Boskin, Michael J & Sheshinski, Eytan, 1978. "Optimal Redistributive Taxation when Individual Welfare Depends upon Relative Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 589-601, November.
  16. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  17. Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
  18. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jšrgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms And Economic Incentives In The Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35, February.
  19. Lemieux, Thomas & Fortin, Bernard & Frechette, Pierre, 1994. "The Effect of Taxes on Labor Supply in the Underground Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 231-54, March.
  20. Alessandro Balestrino & Umberto Galmarini, 2003. "Imperfect Tax Compliance and the Optimal Provision of Public Goods," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 37-52, January.
  21. Huck, Steffen & Kübler, Dorothea & Weibull, Jörgen W., 2010. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 5264, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Cullis, John G. & Lewis, Alan, 1997. "Why people pay taxes: From a conventional economic model to a model of social convention," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 18(2-3), pages 305-321, April.
  23. Dan Anderberg & Alessandro Balestrino & Umberto Galmarini, 2003. "Search and Taxation in a Model of Underground Economic Activities," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(4), pages 647-659, October.
  24. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2005. "Identity and the Economics of Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 9-32, Winter.
  25. Ashby, Julie S. & Haslam, S. Alexander & Webley, Paul, 2009. "The distinct role of group-central and group-peripheral norms in taxpaying behaviour," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 230-237, March.
  26. Wenzel, Michael, 2004. "An analysis of norm processes in tax compliance," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 213-228, April.
  27. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
  28. Gordon, James P. P., 1989. "Individual morality and reputation costs as deterrents to tax evasion," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 797-805, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:05-15. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Hoffmann)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.