NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Michael Hallsworth

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

Working Papers

May 2015The Making of Homo Honoratus: From Omission to Commission
with John A. List, Robert D. Metcalfe, Ivo Vlaev: w21210
Framing remains one of the pillars of behavioral economics. While framing effects have been found to be quite important in the lab, what is less clear is how well evidence drawn from naturally-occurring settings conforms to received laboratory insights. We use debt obligation to the UK government as a case study to explore the ‘omission bias’ present in decision making with large stakes. Using a natural field experiment that generates nearly 40,000 observations, we find that repayment rates are roughly doubled when the act is reframed as one of commission rather than omission. We estimate that this reframing of the perceived nature of the action generated over $1.3 million of new yield. We find evidence that this behavior may result from a deliberate ‘omission strategy’, rather than a...
March 2014The Behavioralist As Tax Collector: Using Natural Field Experiments to Enhance Tax Compliance
with John List, Robert Metcalfe, Ivo Vlaev: w20007
Tax collection problems date back to the earliest recorded history of mankind. This paper begins with a simple theoretical construct of paying (rather than declaring) taxes, which we argue has been an overlooked aspect of tax compliance. This construct is then tested in two large natural field experiments. Using administrative data from more than 200,000 individuals in the UK, we show that including social norms and public goods messages in standard tax payment reminder letters considerably enhances tax compliance. The field experiments increased taxes collected by the Government in the sample period and were cost-free to implement, demonstrating the potential importance of such interventions in increasing tax compliance.

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us