A Tale of Repetition: Lessons from Florida Restaurant Inspections
42 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2014 Last revised: 11 Oct 2021
Date Written: October 2014
This paper examines the role of repetition in government regulation using Florida restaurant inspection data from 2003 to 2010. In the raw data, inspectors new to inspected restaurants tend to report 27% more violations than repeat inspectors. After ruling out regulatory capture and endogenous inspector rotation as potential explanations, we find that the new-repeat gap is best explained by the following two effects: first, restaurants target compliance in response to heterogenous stringency and tastes of different inspectors; second, inspectors pay greater attention in their first visit than in subsequent visits. After controlling for heterogenous inspector criteria, we find that a new inspector reports 13-18% more violations than the second visit of the previous inspector, likely due to a higher level of attention. Counterfactual simulations highlight the importance of inspector training and rotation in regulatory outcomes.
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