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Accountability and taxation: Experimental evidence
Last registered on May 24, 2017


Trial Information
General Information
Accountability and taxation: Experimental evidence
Initial registration date
May 23, 2017
Last updated
May 24, 2017 4:53 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
Centre for Applied Research at NHH (SNF) / Stockholm School of Economics
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Corruption and mismanagement of government revenue is a widespread and serious obstacle to social and economic development in may poor countries. It has frequently been argued that taxing citizens is a promising strategy to promote good governance, because paying tax makes citizens demand more accountability in government expenditures. There is however very little causal evidence of the effect and what may be the underlying mechanisms. Using an online experiment, this project investigates whether and why demand for accountability is higher when revenue is generated through tax compared to when it is windfall. I propose that citizens care more about tax than windfall revenue for two reasons. First, tax revenue is generated by citizens’ hard work, increasing the weight they attach to revenue being spent fairly. Second, money paid in tax has been citizens’ pockets before being collected, increasing their expectations of what to get in return from their payment.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Sjursen, Ingrid Hoem. 2017. "Accountability and taxation: Experimental evidence." AEA RCT Registry. May 24. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2233-3.0.
Former Citation
Sjursen, Ingrid Hoem. 2017. "Accountability and taxation: Experimental evidence." AEA RCT Registry. May 24. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2233/history/17922.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary (citizens): Demand for accountability, measured by willingness to punish.
Secondary (leaders): Supply of accountability, measured by share invested in the common pool.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Demand for accountability: lowest share invested in the common pool for which the citizen does not punish the leader.

Supply of accountability: share of group endowment the leader invests in the common pool.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Two-player investment game with possibilities for punishment. The participants are randomly assigned to the role as leader or citizen. The leader decides how much of a group endowment to invest in a common pool with a multiplier of 1.5. He or she gets the share not invested in the common pool for him or her self. The experimental treatments vary how the group endowment is generated.
Experimental Design Details
In the main treatments, I vary the how the group endowment is financed along two dimensions according to the mechanisms I want to test in a 2X2 design: 1. Hard Earned vs. Windfall: group endowment is result of citizen's and leader's work vs. group endowment is windfall revenue. 2. Tax vs. Non-Tax: group endowment is collected as tax from the citizen and the leader vs. money goes directly to the group endowment.
Randomization Method
Randomization is done by the survey software (Qualtrics).
Randomization Unit
The treatments and roles are randomized at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
2000 individuals.
Sample size: planned number of observations
2000 individuals .
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200 citizen and 200 leaders in each of the five treatments.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
0.3 stdev, 5% significance level, power 0.86.
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information
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Data Publication
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Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)