catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

What would you do if you found somebody else's $600 in your bank account?

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In last week’s discussion of the social norms surrounding money found in the street commenters though that people were more inclined to do the right thing by other individuals than corporations or, in my case, governments. This week there was stark confirmation of that thesis. While 70% of wallets with contact details in them were returned in Australia, just 3% of 2,000 families mistakenly paid the $600 per child bonus twice last year returned the over-payment to the federal government. Admittedly, there are some mitigating factors. The goverment’s decision not to force the repayment may have legitimised keeping the money in the eyes of some recipients (should governments encourage this kind of behaviour?) and some recipients may not have even realised that they had received the money (though that highlights the absurdity of the policy; if you won’t notice an extra $600 you don’t need it). Psychologically, I suspect that the active giving of $600 is seen differently from simply finding $600, even though both are the result of mistakes. Still, a 3% honesty rate is very, very low even after accounting for these factors.


Written by Admin

September 29, 2005 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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