American Economic Journal: Applied Economics
no. 4, October 2023
Is dishonest behavior contagious? We answer this question by studying whether corruption scandals affect the propensity of supermarket customers to steal while using a self-service checkout system. Crucially, this system allows shoppers to engage in dishonest behavior by underreporting the value of their shopping cart. Exploiting data from random audits on shoppers, we show that the probability of stealing increases by 16 percent after a local corruption scandal breaks. This effect is not driven by any change in material incentives. Suggestive evidence shows that it is driven by a reduction in the self-imposed cost of stealing.
Gulino, Giorgio, and Federico Masera.
"Contagious Dishonesty: Corruption Scandals and Supermarket Theft."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
Micro-Based Behavioral Economics: Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification