International Tax and Public Finance

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 401–425 | Cite as

Tax evasion and social information: an experiment in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands

  • Mathieu Lefebvre
  • Pierre Pestieau
  • Arno Riedl
  • Marie Claire Villeval


We experimentally study how receiving information about tax compliance of others affects individuals’ occupational choices and subsequent evading decisions. In one treatment individuals receive information about the highest tax evasion rates of others in past experimental sessions with no such social information; in another treatment they receive information about the lowest tax evasion rates observed in the past sessions with no such social information. We observe an asymmetric effect of social information on tax compliance. Whereas examples of high compliance do not have any disciplining effect, we find evidence that examples of low compliance significantly increase tax evasion for certain audit probabilities. No major differences are found across countries.


Tax evasion Social interactions Peer effects  Cross-country comparisons Experiments 

JEL Classification

H26 D83 C91 



The authors are grateful to Sylvain Ferriol for programming the experiment. They wish to thank Frederic De Wispelaer, Jozef Pacolet, and Sergio Perelman for their help in the implementation of the experiments as well as two anonymous referees for their very helpful comments and suggestions. Financial support from Belgian Science Policy (SUBLEC AG/JJ/137) and from the Belgium’s French Community (ARC 05/10-332) is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

10797_2014_9318_MOESM1_ESM.docx (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 36 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathieu Lefebvre
    • 1
  • Pierre Pestieau
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Arno Riedl
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  • Marie Claire Villeval
    • 8
    • 10
    • 11
  1. 1.University of Montpellier, LAMETAMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.University of LiègeCREPPLiègeBelgium
  3. 3.CORE, University of LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  4. 4.CEPRLondonUK
  5. 5.PSEParisFrance
  6. 6.School of Economics and BusinessMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  7. 7.CESifoMunichGermany
  8. 8.IZABonnGermany
  9. 9.NetsparTilburgThe Netherlands
  10. 10.Université de LyonLyonFrance
  11. 11.CNRS, GATEEcullyFrance

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