We conduct a field experiment to examine whether the deterrent effect of law enforcement depends on the salience of law enforcement activity. Our focus is on illegal disposal of household garbage in residential areas. At a random subset of 56 locations in a midsized city, law enforcement officers supplemented their regular enforcement activities by the practice of putting brightly-colored warning labels on illegally disposed garbage bags. This treatment made the existing enforcement activities suddenly much more apparent to residents. We find evidence for a substantial reduction in illegal disposal of garbage in response to the treatment.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Law enforcement, Deterrence, Perception, Salience, Disorder
JEL Field Experiments (jel C93), Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law (jel K42)
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jeem.2018.11.011, hdl.handle.net/1765/115704
Journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management
Citation
Dur, A.J, & Vollaard, B. (2019). Salience of law enforcement: A field experiment. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 93, 208–220. doi:10.1016/j.jeem.2018.11.011