Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Date of Defense

7-28-2015

Graduate Advisor

Kenneth P. Thomas, Ph.D.

Committee

Robert Paul

Dave Robertson

Fred Cocozzelli

Abstract

Using the 2004 Bank of Italy Survey of Household Wealth and Income, I undertake a comparative study assessing the regional effects of social capital and political culture on tax morale in Italy. I demonstrate that Southern Italy is significantly different than Northern Italy with regards to tax morale, and that social capital and civic culture positively affect tax morale. To compliment the Bank of Italy survey, I use controlled laboratory tax compliance experiments and a Social Value Orientation task to test if Southern Italians are consistently different than Northern Italians with regards to their tax compliance even when presented with the exact same taxpayer environment. I uncover that when put in the same taxpayer environment, Southerners comply and are just as others-regarding as their Northern counterparts, which supports the framework that institutional context matters. Finally, by retracing the historical legacy of Italian political and cultural institutions dating back to the Risorgimento (1815-1871) to the beginning of the Second Republic (1994), I closely examine the effects of periodic shifts in institutions on behavior, specifically tax behavior. This allows me to more convincingly establish the contextual setting in which two divergent civic cultures and taxpayer behaviors were formed. In the end, I conclude that both institutions and individual agency (culture) act in tandem to shape taxpayer behavior. They are not contradictory, but rather they interact to determine why some people choose to comply and others do not.

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