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Spoiled food and spoiled surprises: Inspection anticipation and regulatory compliance

Matthew Makofske ()

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2021, vol. 190, issue C, 348-365

Abstract: Periodic inspections, in which firms are punished for detected violations, are a popular means of enforcing environmental, health, and safety regulations. The effectiveness of these programs typically hinges on inspection timing being unannounced and difficult to anticipate, lest firms comply only when they believe inspections are likely. In Las Vegas, Nevada, many facilities—e.g., casinos, hotels, and shopping malls—house multiple food-service establishments, several of which are often inspected during the same inspector visit. When this happens, all but the first establishment inspected likely anticipate their inspection to a meaningful extent. Using data which record inspection starting times and span more than six years, I find that establishments in such facilities perform significantly and substantially worse when they receive the first inspection of a visit. Relative to their own performances when inspected later than first, establishments are assessed 21% more inspection-score demerits and cited for 31% more critical violations in these surprise inspections.

Keywords: Inspection; Regulation; Compliance; Enforcement; Restaurant hygiene (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K32 Q18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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Working Paper: Spoiled Food and Spoiled Surprises: Inspection Anticipation and Regulatory Compliance (2020) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2021.07.036

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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