University of Sussex
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Taxation, reponsiveness and accountability in Sub-Saharan Africa

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:43 authored by Wilson PrichardWilson Prichard
This thesis explores the argument that the need for governments to raise tax revenue, as opposed to relying on resource rents or other sources of non-tax revenue, may increase the likelihood that they will be responsive and accountable to their citizens. It employs a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, first testing the relationship between tax reliance and accountability econometrically using cross-country data and then turning to detailed case studies from Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia. The econometric results conclude that while existing data is consistent with the argument that tax reliance contributes to greater responsiveness and accountability, it is not possible to establish causality due to a combination of data limitations and the complexity of the underlying causal processes. This ambiguous finding provides motivation for the detailed case studies that follow. The causal model developed here proposes that the need for governments to rely on taxation may strengthen taxpayer demands for responsiveness and accountability, owing to the possibility of tax resistance and the role of taxation as a catalyst for collective action. Consistent with this model, the case study chapters present detailed historical narratives that capture significant examples from each of the three countries in which the need for taxation has contributed significantly to the expansion of responsiveness and accountability. As importantly, the case study evidence provides a nuanced understanding of the nature of the connections between taxation, responsiveness and accountability, highlighting three distinct types of causal processes at work, as well as the most significant social, political and economic contextual factors that shape the potential for tax bargaining. These lessons point toward important policy implications for foreign aid and tax reform more broadly.


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  • Institute of Development Studies Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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