Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information

49 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2009

See all articles by Gerlinde Fellner-Röhling

Gerlinde Fellner-Röhling

University of Ulm - Department of Mathematics and Economics

Rupert Sausgruber

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics

Christian Traxler

Hertie School of Governance; Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: September 1, 2009

Abstract

We run a large-scale natural field experiment to evaluate alternative strategies to enforce compliance with the law. The experiment varies the text of mailings sent to potential evaders of TV license fees. We find a strong alert effect of mailings, leading to a substantial increase in compliance. Among different mailing conditions a legal threat that stresses a high detection risk has a significant and highly robust deterrent effect. Neither appealing to morals nor imparting information about others' behavior enhances compliance. However, the information condition has a positive effect in municipalities where evasion is believed to be common. Overall, the economic model of crime performs remarkably well in explaining our data.

Keywords: Field experiments, law enforcement, compliance, deterrence

JEL Classification: K42, C93

Suggested Citation

Fellner-Röhling, Gerlinde and Sausgruber, Rupert and Traxler, Christian, Testing Enforcement Strategies in the Field: Legal Threat, Moral Appeal and Social Information (September 1, 2009). MPI Collective Goods Preprint, No. 2009/31; CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2787. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1468344 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1468344

Gerlinde Fellner-Röhling

University of Ulm - Department of Mathematics and Economics ( email )

Helmholzstrasse
Ulm, D-89081
Germany

Rupert Sausgruber

Vienna University of Economics and Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, 1020
Austria
+43 1 31336 4572 (Phone)

Christian Traxler (Contact Author)

Hertie School of Governance ( email )

Friedrichstrasse 180
Quartier 110
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschingerstr. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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