Culture, Coercion, and Compliance

76 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2018

See all articles by Blaine Robbins

Blaine Robbins

New York University Abu Dhabi

Edgar Kiser

University of Washington

Date Written: September 26, 2018


Scholars of tax behavior, particularly economists and political scientists, have traditionally focused on state coercion and state reciprocity as drivers of tax compliance. Neither state coercion nor state reciprocity, however, sufficiently account for the high rates of tax compliance empirically observed across nations. We argue that coercion and reciprocity matter, but that compliance is largely driven by values and morality. The authors propose that moral imperatives and moral alignment foster tax compliance. To test our hypotheses, we developed and administered a survey experiment of income tax evasion to a large nationally representative random sample of U.S. adults. Results provided weak support for state reciprocity, while strong support was observed for values (both moral imperatives and moral alignment) and state coercion. We review the implications of our findings in the discussion and conclusion, especially as they relate to dual-process models of culture and action.

Keywords: Tax Compliance, State Coercion, State Reciprocity, Values, Survey Experiment

Suggested Citation

Robbins, Blaine and Kiser, Edgar, Culture, Coercion, and Compliance (September 26, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Blaine Robbins (Contact Author)

New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Edgar Kiser

University of Washington ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics