Policies Designed for Self-Interested Citizens May Undermine “The Moral Sentiments”: Evidence from Economic Experiments

Samuel Bowles (2008) Policies Designed for Self-Interested Citizens May Undermine “The Moral Sentiments”: Evidence from Economic Experiments, Science 20 June 2008: Vol. 320 no. 5883 pp. 1605-1609. DOI: 10.1126/science.1152110.

Notes by Yi-Nung

這是一篇很典型的「文獻回顧型」的 paper (發表在很棒的 Science 期刊)…


外顯動機 (explicit incentives) 和道德動機 (ethical motives) 是且互補性 (complements);亦即,不能只依賴「外顯動機」當做趨使人們做出正確 (係指 social optimal) 決策之方法; … 本文提及的實驗證明,外顯動機機制會降低道德感 (… Incentives undermine ethical motives…)



Original Abstract

High-performance organizations and economies work on the basis not only of material interests but also of Adam Smith’s “moral sentiments.” Well-designed laws and public policies can harness self-interest for the common good. However, incentives that appeal to self-interest may fail when they undermine the moral values that lead people to act altruistically or in other public-spirited ways. Behavioral experiments reviewed here suggest that economic incentives may be counterproductive when they signal that selfishness is an appropriate response; constitute a learning environment through which over time people come to adopt more self-interested motivations; compromise the individual’s sense of self-determination and thereby degrade intrinsic motivations; or convey a message of distrust, disrespect, and unfair intent. Many of these unintended effects of incentives occur because people act not only to acquire economic goods and services but also to constitute themselves as dignified, autonomous, and moral individuals. Good organizational and institutional design can channel the material interests for the achievement of social goals while also enhancing the contribution of the moral sentiments to the same ends.



Taxpayer Information Assistance Services and Tax Compliance Behavior

Taxpayer Information Assistance Services and Tax Compliance Behavior

Date: 2011-04

By: James Alm (Department of Economics, Tulane University)

Todd Cherry (Department of Economics, Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University)

Michael Jones (Department of Economics, Bridgewater State College)

Michael McKee (Department of Economics, Walker College of Business, Appalachian State University)

URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:tul:wpaper:1101&r=net

The traditional “enforcement" paradigm of tax administration views taxpayers as potential criminals, and emphasizes the repression of illegal behavior through frequent audits and stiff penalties. However, an important trend in tax administration policies in recent years is the recognition that this paradigm is incomplete. Instead, a revised “service" paradigm recognizes the role of enforcement, but also emphasizes the role of tax administration as a facilitator and a provider of services to taxpayer-citizens. This research utilizes laboratory experiments to test the effectiveness of such taxpayer service programs in enhancing tax compliance. Our basic experimental setting mimics the naturally occurring environment: subjects earn income, they must choose whether to file a tax return, and they then must choose how much of their net income to report to a tax authority that may audit the subject. To investigate the effects of taxpayer services, we “complicate" these compliance decisions of subjects, and then provide “services" from the “tax administration" that allow subjects to compute more easily their tax liabilities. Our results indicate that uncertainty reduces both the filing and the reporting compliance of an individual. However, we also find that agency-provided information has a positive and significant impact on the tendency of an individual to file a tax return, and also on reporting for individuals who choose to file a return.

Keywords: tax evasion, tax compliance, behavioral economics, experimental economics

JEL: H26