Embezzlement and taxation: Experimental evidence
Last registered on February 19, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Embezzlement and taxation: Experimental evidence
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004646
Initial registration date
January 27, 2020
Last updated
February 19, 2020 8:42 AM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Centre for Applied Research at NHH (SNF) / Stockholm School of Economics
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Vienna
PI Affiliation
Brown University
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-02-19
End date
2020-03-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We provide causal evidence on how two institutional features, source of revenue (tax vs. windfall) and whether the affected party can punish, affect embezzlement.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Putterman, Louis, Ingrid Hoem Sjursen and Jean-Robert Tyran. 2020. "Embezzlement and taxation: Experimental evidence." AEA RCT Registry. February 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4646-1.1.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In the experimental treatments, we exogenously vary whether the public revenue is a windfall or is collected as a tax on earnings from a real effort task. Additionally, we vary whether the parties affected by the embezzlement can demand accountability from the person embezzling public revenue (by implementing a costly punishment).
Intervention Start Date
2020-02-19
Intervention End Date
2020-03-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Embezzlement: Share of public revenue the public official does not invest in the public project.

2. Punishment: Minimum acceptable investment: highest share of public revenue allocated to the citizens for which the citizen does not punish the public official.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Embezzlement: (2 - amount of public revenue the public official invests in the public project)/2.

2. Punishment: Highest amount of public revenue allocated to the citizens for which the citizen does not punish the public official/2.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Beliefs about punishment: Highest share of public revenue allocated to the citizens for which public officials believe that the (randomly selected) citizens are willing to punish them.

2. Social norm for embezzlement: Guess about other participant's judgement of five possible investment decisions the public official could make.

3. Beliefs about embezzlement: Citizen's guess about the public official's embezzlement.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Beliefs about punishment: Highest amount of public revenue allocated to the citizens for which public officials believe that the (randomly selected) citizens are willing to punish them/2.

2. Social norm for embezzlement: For each of the five social appropriateness judgements, we construct a discrete variable coded in the following way: "very socially inappropriate" = 1, "socially inappropriate" = 2, "somewhat socially inappropriate" = 3, "somewhat socially appropriate" = 4, "socially appropriate" =5, "very socially appropriate" = 6.

3. Beliefs about embezzlement: (2 - citizen's guess about the public official's investment)/2.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Participants interact in groups of three, where one participant has the role of public official and two participants have the role of citizens. In the interaction, there is some public revenue, the purpose of which is to benefi t the two citizens. The public official is in charge of investing the public revenue in a public project that benefi ts the citizens, but has the power to keep some for him or herself.

In the experimental treatments, we exogenously vary whether the public revenue is a windfall or is collected as a tax on earnings from a real effort task. Additionally, we vary whether the parties affected by the embezzlement can demand accountability from the person embezzling public revenue (by implementing a costly punishment).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer (Qualtrics software)
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
1600 groups (consisting of three individuals)
Sample size: planned number of observations
4800 individuals, 1600 groups
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1600 individuals (400 groups) in each of the four treatments
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
1. Embezzlement: 0.2 standard deviation (5.5 percentage points, assuming a standard deviation of 0.28) 2. Punishment: 0.14 standard deviation (4.35 percentage points, assuming a standard deviation of 0.31)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
NHH IRB
IRB Approval Date
2019-09-08
IRB Approval Number
NHH-IRB 11/19
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers