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Risk, Transaction Costs, and Tax Assignment: Government Finance in the Ottoman Empire

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  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Risk and transaction costs often provide competing explanations of institutional outcomes. In this paper we argue that they offer opposing predictions regarding the assignment of fixed and variable taxes in a multi-tiered governmental structure. While the central government can pool regional risks from variable taxes, local governments can measure variable tax bases more accurately. Evidence on tax assignment from the mid-sixteenth century Ottoman Empire supports the transaction cost explanation, suggesting that risk matters less because insurance can be obtained in a variety of ways.

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File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2003-04.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2003-04.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2003
Date of revision: Sep 2004
Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic History, 2005, 65(3): 806-21.
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2003-04

Note: We wish to thank the editor of the JOURNAL and two anonymous referees, the participants and discussants at the 2002 Annual Cliometrics Conference in La Crosse, WI; the 2003 Alumni Workshop in Iowa City, IA; and the 2003 Social Science History Association meetings in Baltimore, MD for helpful comments and suggestions. Ali Ozdemir, Sadik Yildirim, and Huseyin Yilmaz provided valuable research assistance.
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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Keywords: Ottoman Empire; public finance; taxation; risk; transaction costs; tax assignment;

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Cited by:
  1. Tosun, Mehmet Serkan & Yilmaz, Serdar, 2008. "Centralization, Decentralization, and Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4774, The World Bank.
  2. Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli & Jared Rubin, 2010. "The Political Economy of Mass Printing: Legitimacy and Technological Change in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics 2010-02, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2012.

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