Inspection Technology, Detection and Compliance: Evidence from Florida Restaurant Inspections
NBER Working Paper No. 18939
Many regulations mandate government employees to inspect economic entities on a regular basis. In this paper, we show that a small innovation in inspection technology can make substantial differences in inspection outcomes. For restaurant hygiene inspections, the state of Florida has introduced a handheld electronic device, the portable digital assistant (PDA), which reminds inspectors of about 1,000 potential violations that may be checked for. Using administrative data on inspections conducted from July 2003 to June 2009, we find that the adoption of PDAs led to 11% more detected violations. Subsequently, restaurants increased their compliance efforts, but the response was gradual. Nevertheless, the heightened compliance induced by PDA use has contributed to reducing the risk of restaurant-related foodborne disease outbreaks.
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This paper was revised on October 30, 2013