Battiston, P., Gamba, S. (2016).
Is Tax Compliance a Social Norm? A Field Experiment. International Review of Law and Economics, 46: 78-85.
We study the effect of social pressure on tax compliance, focusing on the compliance of shop sellers to the legal obligation of releasing tax receipts for each sale. We carry out a field experiment on bakeries in Italy, where a strong gap exists between the legal obligation and the actual behavior of sellers. Social pressure is manipulated by means of an explicit request for a receipt when not released. We employ an innovative approach to the identification of the treatment effect. We find that a single request for a receipt causes a 17 per cent rise in the probability of a receipt being released for a sale occurring shortly thereafter, causing on average more than two receipts to be released. We also find strong evidence of persistence in compliance decisions.