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The Origins of Social Contracts: Attitudes toward Taxation in Urban Nigeria

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  • Cristina Bodea
  • Adrienne LeBas
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    Abstract

    How do social contracts come into being?� This paper argues that norm adoption plays an important and neglected role in this process.� Using novel data from urban Nigeria, we examine why individuals adopt norms favoring a citizen obligation to pay tax where state enforcement is weak.� We find that public goods delivery by the state produces the willingness to pay tax, but community characteristics also have a strong and independent effect on both social contract norms and actual tax payment.� Individuals are less likely to adopt pro-tax norms if they have access to community provision of security and other services.� In conflict-prone communities, where "self-help" provision of club goods is less effective, individuals are more likely to adopt social contract norms.� Finally, we show that social contract norms substantially boost tax payment.� This paper has broad implications for literatures on state formation, taxation, clientelism, and public goods provision.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2013-02.

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    Date of creation: 24 Jan 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2013-02

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    1. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
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    3. Alesina, Alberto & Baqir, Reza & Easterly, William, 1999. "Public goods and ethnic divisions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2108, The World Bank.
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    8. Benno Torgler & James Alm & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2005. "Russian Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes – Before, During, and After the Transition," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0518, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    9. Cox, Donald & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1998. "Risk Sharing and Private Transfers: What about Urban Households?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(3), pages 621-37, April.
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    11. Habyarimana, James P. & Humphreys, Macartan & Posner, Daniel N. & Weinstein, Jeremy, 2006. "Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2272, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Fafchamps, Marcel, 1992. "Solidarity Networks in Preindustrial Societies: Rational Peasants with a Moral Economy," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 147-74, October.
    13. Alessandra Cassar & Bruce Wydick, 2010. "Does social capital matter? Evidence from a five-country group lending experiment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 715-739, October.
    14. Raphaёl Franck & Ilia Rainer, 2012. "Does the Leader’s Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 2012-06, Department of Economics, Bar-Ilan University.
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