Taxation Without Representation? Experimental Evidence from Ghana and Uganda on Citizen Action Toward Taxes, Oil, and Aid

56 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017

See all articles by Brandon de la Cuesta

Brandon de la Cuesta

Stanford University

Helen V. Milner

Princeton University - Princeton School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Daniel L. Nielson

Brigham Young University

Stephen Knack

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Date Written: July 5, 2017

Abstract

Seminal arguments in political economy hold that citizens will more readily demand accountability from governments for taxes than for non-tax revenue from oil or aid. Two identical experiments on large, representative subject pools in Ghana and Uganda probe the effects of different revenue types on citizens' actions to monitor government spending. Roughly half of all subjects willingly sign petitions and donate money to scrutinize all three sources. However, neither Ghanaians nor Ugandans are more likely to take action for tax revenues than for oil or aid. The results also suggest no differences among taxes, oil, and aid in citizens' perceptions of transparency, misappropriation risk, or public goods provision. The results are robust to several alternative specifications and subgroup partitions, including the better educated, wealthier, and taxpaying population, suggesting a need for rethinking the axiom that taxation strengthens citizens' demands for accountability in developing countries.

Keywords: Public Finance Decentralization and Poverty Reduction, Macro-Fiscal Policy, Public Sector Economics, Global Environment, Economic Adjustment and Lending, Non Governmental Organizations, Taxation & Subsidies, Economics and Institutions, Public Sector Management and Reform

Suggested Citation

de la Cuesta, Brandon and Milner, Helen V. and Nielson, Daniel L. and Knack, Stephen, Taxation Without Representation? Experimental Evidence from Ghana and Uganda on Citizen Action Toward Taxes, Oil, and Aid (July 5, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8137, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3006211

Brandon De la Cuesta (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Helen V. Milner

Princeton University - Princeton School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
United States
609-258-0181 (Phone)

Daniel L. Nielson

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

Stephen Knack

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-458-9712 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/sknack

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
40
Abstract Views
461
PlumX Metrics