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Taxation and Development: What Have We Learned from Fifty Years of Research?

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  • Richard M. Bird

    ()
    (University of Toronto)

Abstract

We have learned a great deal about taxation and development over the last half-century. However, we still have much to learn. Even the best research answers to particular questions have usually turned out to be extremely difficult to apply in practice. Over the past fifty years what might be called the standard approach to tax and development has undergone a number of major model changes over the years but no magical fiscal medicine suitable for all has been found. In this brief paper I first attempt to provide a perspective on a half century of work and then to note some questions that seem to call for more research. I emphasize that even the best research is only one of many inputs in shaping public policy and suggest that to some extent the task we face is perhaps not so much to improve research on tax and development as it is to improve how we market what we learn to those who can, if they wish, put the knowledge to use. What is needed is less a non-existent ‘universal fix’ than a fiscal medicine kit containing a variety of remedies and treatments that may help developing countries to cope with the wide variety of fiscal problems that arise at different times and often in different ways.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper1202.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 13 Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1202

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Related research

Keywords: taxation; development; technical assistance; history of thought;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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  1. Bird,Richard & Gendron,Pierre-Pascal, 2007. "The VAT in Developing and Transitional Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521877657, October.
  2. Bird, Richard M. & Zolt, Eric M., 2005. "The limited role of the personal income tax in developing countries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 928-946, December.
  3. Alvin Rabushka, 2008. "Introduction to Taxation in Colonial America
    [Taxation in Colonial America]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
  4. Mankiw, N. Gregory & Weinzierl, Matthew Charles & Yagan, Danny Ferris, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Scholarly Articles 4263739, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Richard M. Bird, 2010. "Value Added Tax: Onward and Upward?," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper1026, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  6. Roy W. Bahl & Richard M. Bird, 2008. "Tax Policy in Developing Countries: Looking Back and Forward," Working Papers Series 13, Rotman Institute for International Business, Joseph L. Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, revised May 2008.
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Cited by:
  1. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge, 2013. "Taxation and development: A review of donor support to strengthen tax systems in developing countries," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  2. Moore, Mick, 2014. "Revenue Reform and Statebuilding in Anglophone Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 99-112.

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