Skip to main content

Online SPP Research Seminar: History, trust in institutions and regulatory compliance

Anand Murugesan
Wednesday, December 16, 2020, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

What are the historical determinants of current levels of trust in public institutions? Does historically rooted trust explain individuals' compliance with government regulations? To evaluate these questions, we examine the effect of historical Habsburg rule on contemporary trust in government and a variety of compliance outcomes. We have conducted online surveys in regions within Italy and Austria treated with the Habsburg rule for varying lengths of time. In Italy, we select regions without any Habsburg rule to compare with neighboring regions with some length of rule (50 to 150 years) or regions under a long reign (300 - 600 years). We use list-experiments (or the item-count technique) to elicit trust and compliance behavior, as well as self-reported measures of other individual-level covariates. As compliance outcomes, we study bribery, tax evasion, and COVID-19 related restrictions. For tax compliance, we introduce a novel behavioral choice in the survey -- signing up for free expert tax consultation vs. receiving a less valuable Amazon gift card -- that elicits revealed preference for tax compliance. As the survey is running just this week, we have only preliminary results to share.