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Contagious Dishonesty: Corruption Scandals and Supermarket Theft

Giorgio Gulino and Federico Masera

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2023, vol. 15, issue 4, 218-51

Abstract: 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.

JEL-codes: D12 D73 D91 K42 L81 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

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DOI: 10.1257/app.20210446

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