The fiscal impact of the War of the Pacific
In the War of the Pacific (1879–1883), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia, and acquired territories that contained vast deposits of sodium nitrate, a leading fertilizer. Chile’s export tax on nitrates later accounted for at least one half of all government revenue. We employ a multi-country model of export taxation in order to simulate the potential government revenues that Bolivia, Chile and Peru could have earned under the counterfactual scenario that Chile did not conquer the nitrate-rich provinces of its adversaries. Our results are that Peruvian and Bolivian government revenues could have been at least double their historical levels. We estimate that, over the remainder of the nineteenth century, Chile’s earnings from nitrates would have fallen by 80%.
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Volume (Year): 3 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
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