Paradigms in Paying: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Behavioral Tax Response

26 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020 Last revised: 12 Jul 2021

See all articles by Emmet Sullivan

Emmet Sullivan

University of Pennsylvania; University of Virginia - Department of Psychology

Date Written: April 28, 2020


Cultural binaries such as individualism and collectivism have been shown to influence individuals’ thought processes in a variety of domains. Theories of each type of culture make general predictions about how these culturally-based mindsets may influence economic decisions, but few studies have sought to ope-rationalize these paradigms in a behavioral measure. Using TurkPrime samples from both the US (individualistic society) and India (collectivistic), the present research shows that the cultural norms present in each country have behavioral manifestations as measured by differing levels of willingness to continue working under a re-distributive income tax. We show that members of a collectivistic society are significantly less opposed to re-distributive taxes in general, and more willing to continue working when such a tax is imposed on their income. The study attributes this difference to collectivistic societies viewing an accumulation of wealth as a larger responsibility to give back to society than individualistic societies. The experimental findings are then further corroborated by archival analysis of questionnaire responses from each country found in the World Values Survey.

Keywords: cross-cultural, collectivism, individualism, tax, wealth, redistribution

JEL Classification: F68, H71

Suggested Citation

Sullivan, Emmet, Paradigms in Paying: A Cross-Cultural Examination of Behavioral Tax Response (April 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Emmet Sullivan (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA
United States

University of Virginia - Department of Psychology ( email )

United States

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