IZA DP No. 9443: Compliance Behavior in Networks: Evidence from a Field Experiment
revised version forthcoming in: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2020
This paper studies the spread of compliance behavior in neighborhood networks involving over 500,000 households in Austria. We exploit random variation from a field experiment which varied the content of mailings sent to potential evaders of TV license fees. Our data reveal a strong treatment spillover: 'untreated' households, who were not part of the experimental sample, are more likely to switch from evasion to compliance in response to the mailings received by their network neighbors. We analyze the spillover within a model of communication in networks based on DeGroot (1974). Consistent with the model, we find that (i) the spillover increases with the treated households' eigenvector centrality and that (ii) local concentration of equally treated households produces a lower spillover. These findings carry important implications for enforcement policies.