IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Value of Honesty: Empirical Estimates from the Case of the Missing Children

  • Sara LaLumia
  • James M. Sallee

How much are people willing to forego to be honest, to follow the rules? When people do break the rules, what can standard data sources tell us about their behavior? Standard economic models of crime typically assume that individuals are indifferent to dishonesty, so that they will cheat or lie as long as the expected pecuniary benefits exceed the expected costs of being caught and punished. We investigate this presumption by studying the response to a change in tax reporting rules that made it much more difficult for taxpayers to evade taxes by inappropriately claiming additional dependents. The policy reform induced a substantial reduction in the number of dependents claimed, which indicates that many filers had been cheating before the reform. Yet, the number of filers who availed themselves of this evasion opportunity is dwarfed by the number of filers who passed up substantial tax savings by not claiming extra dependents. By declining the opportunity to cheat, these taxpayers reveal information about their willingness to pay to be honest. We present a novel method for inferring the characteristics of taxpayers in the absence of audit data. Our analysis suggests both that this willingness to pay to be honest is large on average and that it varies significantly across the population of taxpayers.

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: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17247.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17247.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Sara LaLumia & James Sallee, 2013. "The value of honesty: empirical estimates from the case of the missing children," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 192-224, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17247
Note: PE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


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. Joel Slemrod & Jon Bakija, 2004. "Taxing Ourselves, 3rd Edition: A Citizen's Guide to the Debate over Taxes," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 3, volume 1, number 026269302x, June.
  2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "The "Out of Africa" Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Oded Galor & Andrew Mountford, 2004. "Trading Population for Productivity," GE, Growth, Math methods 0410001, EconWPA.
  4. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Strulik, Holger, 2010. "The Physiological Foundations of the Wealth of Nations," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Hannover 2010 3, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  5. Whittington, L.A. & Peters, H.E., 1989. "Fertility And The Personal Exemption: Implicit Pronatalist Policy In The United States," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 89-6, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  6. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
  7. Henrik J. Kleven & Martin B. Knudsen & Claus T. Kreiner & Søren Pedersen & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Unwilling or Unable to Cheat? Evidence from a Randomized Tax Audit Experiment in Denmark," NBER Working Papers 15769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation, and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations," NBER Working Papers 17640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bordignon, Massimo, 1993. "A fairness approach to income tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 345-362, October.
  10. Richard Crump & Gopi Shah Goda & Kevin Mumford, 2010. "Fertility and the Personal Exemption: Comment," NBER Working Papers 15984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Dubin, Jeffrey A. & Graetz, Michael J. & Wilde, Louis L., 1990. "The Effect of Audit Rates on the Federal Individual Income Tax, 1977-1986," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(4), pages 395-409, December.
  12. J. Bradford DeLong & Konstantin Magin, 2009. "The U.S. Equity Return Premium: Past, Present, and Future," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 193-208, Winter.
  13. Diego A. Comin & William Easterly & Erick Gong, 2008. "Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 B.C.?," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-052, Harvard Business School.
  14. Orazio P. Attanasio & Monica Paiella, 2011. "Intertemporal consumption choices, transaction costs and limited participation in financial markets: reconciling data and theory," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 322-343, March.
  15. O Grada, C. & O'Rourke, K.H., 2000. "Living Standards and Growth," Papers 00/14, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  16. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2006. "The Galor-Weil Model Revisited: A Quantitative Exercise," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(1), pages 116-142, January.
  17. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  18. Oded_Galor & Andrew Mountford, 2006. "Trade and the Great Divergence: The Family Connection," Working Papers 2006-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  19. Angus Maddison, 2008. "The West and the Rest in the World Economy: 1000–2030," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 9(4), pages 75-100, October.
  20. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  21. Jacob L. Weisdorf, 2003. "From Foraging to Farming: Explaining the Neolithic Revolution," Discussion Papers 03-41, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  22. Block, M K & Heineke, J M, 1975. "A Labor Theoretic Analysis of the Criminal Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 314-25, June.
  23. Matthias Doepke, 2001. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," UCLA Economics Working Papers 804, UCLA Department of Economics.
  24. O'Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj & Rahman, Ahmed & Taylor, Alan M., 2008. "Luddites and the Demographic Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 7045, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  25. Leslie Whittington & H. Elizabeth Peters, 1996. "Economic incentives for financial and residential independence," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 82-97, February.
  26. Crafts, Nicholas & Mills, Terence C., 2009. "From Malthus to Solow: How did the Malthusian economy really evolve?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 68-93, March.
  27. Naomi E. Feldman & Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Estimating tax noncompliance with evidence from unaudited tax returns," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(518), pages 327-352, 03.
  28. Holtzblatt, Janet & McCubbin, Janet, 2003. "Whose Child Is It Anyway? Simplifying the Definition of a Child," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 56(3), pages 701-18, September.
  29. McCubbin, Janet, 2000. "EITC Noncompliance: The Determinants of the Misreporting of Children," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1135-64, December.
  30. Christian, Charles W. & Frischmann, Peter J., 1989. "Attrition in the Statistics of Income Panel of Individual Returns," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(4), pages 495-501, December.
  31. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 843-877.
  32. Raj Chetty, 2003. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 9988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2000. "Who Are the Ineligible EITC Recipients?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1165-86, December.
  34. Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2006. "Why England? Demographic factors, structural change and physical capital accumulation during the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 319-361, December.
  35. Galor, Oded & Moav, Omer, 2001. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 2727, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  36. Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2000. "Who are the Ineligible EITC Recipients?," JCPR Working Papers 131, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  37. Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1993. "Honesty and Evasion in the Tax Compliance Game," Carleton Economic Papers 93-06, Carleton University, Department of Economics, revised 1994.
  38. Patricia Beeson & Tara Watson & Lara Shore-Sheppard, 2010. "Local Fiscal Policies and Urban Wage Structures," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-05, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  39. Nico Voigtlander & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2009. "Malthusian Dynamism and the Rise of Europe: Make War, Not Love," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 248-54, May.
  40. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  41. Joel Slemrod & Caroline Weber, 2012. "Evidence of the invisible: toward a credibility revolution in the empirical analysis of tax evasion and the informal economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 25-53, February.
  42. Holger Strulik & Jacob Weisdorf, 2008. "Population, food, and knowledge: a simple unified growth theory," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 195-216, September.
  43. Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2001. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from "Missing Imports" in China," NBER Working Papers 8551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  44. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
  45. Jacob Weisdorf, 2008. "Why did the First Farmers Toil? Human Metabolism and the Origins of Agriculture," Discussion Papers 08-15, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  46. Joel Slemrod, 1992. "Taxation and Inequality: A Time-Exposure Perspective," NBER Working Papers 3999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  47. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-73, August.
  48. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
  49. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  50. Becker, Winfried & Buchner, Heinz-Jurgen & Sleeking, Simon, 1987. "The impact of public transfer expenditures on tax evasion : An experimental approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 243-252, November.
  51. Olsson, Ola & Hibbs, Douglas Jr., 2005. "Biogeography and long-run economic development," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 909-938, May.
  52. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-85, February.
  53. Oded Galor, 2006. "The Demographic Transition," Working Papers 2006-24, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  54. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
  55. Stelios Michalopoulos, 2009. "The Origins of Ethnolinguistic Diversity," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 110, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  56. 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.
  57. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 1999. "From Malthusian Stagnation to Modern Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 150-154, May.
  58. Cowell, F. A., 1992. "Tax evasion and inequity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 521-543, December.
  59. Jonathan S. Feinstein, 1991. "An Econometric Analysis of Income Tax Evasion and its Detection," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(1), pages 14-35, Spring.
  60. Gerald Auten & Robert Carroll, 1999. "The Effect Of Income Taxes On Household Income," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 681-693, November.
  61. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2008. "Human Genetic Diversity and Comparative Economic Development," 2008 Meeting Papers 617, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  62. Baldry, Jonathan C, 1987. "Income Tax Evasion and the Tax Schedule: Some Experimental Results," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 42(3), pages 357-83.
  63. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
  64. Klepper, Steven & Nagin, Daniel, 1989. "The Anatomy of Tax Evasion," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-24, Spring.
  65. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
  66. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
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:nbr:nberwo:17247. 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: ()

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.