Forthcoming publication in the European Economic Review

"The ghost of institutions past: History as an obstacle to fighting tax evasion?" by Aaron Kamm, Christian Koch and Nikos Nikiforakis has been accepted for publication in the European Economic Review

The paper can be found here.


Can a history of evasion affect tax compliance after a major institutional reform? We address this question in a novel laboratory experiment varying the quality of past and present institutions. We find that past institutions continue to exert considerable influence on individuals’ expectations about others’ compliance even after a major, common-knowledge institutional change. Consequently, we observe low compliance in good-quality institutions when there is a history of evasion, but high compliance when there is no such history. These findings suggest that history should not be ignored as it is in traditional models of compliance: the higher evasion has been historically, the stronger incentives may need to be to overcome the “ghost of institutions past”. We show that a society-wide poll in which individuals express their attitudes toward compliance can help break the link with the past.