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Does democracy affect taxation and government spending? Evidence from developing countries

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  • Profeta, Paola
  • Puglisi, Riccardo
  • Scabrosetti, Simona

Abstract

Focusing on developing countries in three geographical areas (South-East Asia, Latin America and European Union), we explore the relation between political variables and tax revenue, public spending and their structure. We build a new dataset for the 1990–2005 period with fiscal, political and socio-economic variables. Since democracy is a complex and multidimensional concept, we measure it using two variables, the political strength of democratic institutions, and the protection of civil liberties. We perform three sets of estimates: (i) cross-country pooled OLS regressions with region fixed effects, (ii) country fixed effects regressions and (iii) region specific regressions with country fixed effects. While the first model delivers some significant correlations between political variables and tax items, when controlling for country fixed effects we find that tax revenue and tax composition are in general not significantly correlated with the strength of democratic institutions and the protection of civil liberties. The only exceptions are indirect, trade and property taxes. A similar result applies to public spending, with the exception of defense expenditure. Overall, our findings cast some doubt on the exact public policy channels through which political institutions affect economic development.

Suggested Citation

  • Profeta, Paola & Puglisi, Riccardo & Scabrosetti, Simona, 2013. "Does democracy affect taxation and government spending? Evidence from developing countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 684-718.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:41:y:2013:i:3:p:684-718
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2012.10.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Pantelis Kammas & Vassilis Sarantides, 2017. "Democratisation and tax structure: Greece versus Europe from a historical perspective," GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe 109, Hellenic Observatory, LSE.
    2. Toke Aidt & Peter Jensen, 2013. "Democratization and the size of government: evidence from the long 19th century," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 511-542, December.
    3. Hallerberg, Mark & Scartascini, Carlos, 2017. "Explaining changes in tax burdens in Latin America: Do politics trump economics?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 162-179.
    4. Adam, Antonis & Kammas, Pantelis & Lapatinas, Athanasios, 2015. "Income inequality and the tax structure: Evidence from developed and developing countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 138-154.
    5. repec:zbw:ifweej:201827 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kotera, Go & Okada, Keisuke, 2015. "How Does Democratization Affect the Composition of Government Expenditure?," MPRA Paper 67085, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Marcus André Melo & Armando Barrientos & André Canuto Coelho, 2014. "Taxation, redistribution and the social contract in Brazil," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series iriba_wp11, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    8. Morten Endrikat, 2017. "Natural resource rents, autocracy and the composition of government spending," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201727, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    9. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Sajjad Faraji Dizaji, 2014. "Political Institutions and Government Spending Behavior in Iran," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201403, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    10. Facundo Piguillem & Alessandro Riboni, 2015. "Spending-Biased Legislators: Discipline Through Disagreement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(2), pages 901-949.
    11. Balamatsias, Pavlos, 2018. "Democracy and government spending," MPRA Paper 84975, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Balamatsias, Pavlos, 2018. "Democracy and taxation," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 12, pages 1-28.
    13. Bougharriou, Nouha & Benayed, Walid & Gabsi, Foued Badr, 2018. "The democracy and economic growth nexus: Do FDI and government spending matter? Evidence from the Arab world," Economics Discussion Papers 2018-17, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    14. Lidia CERIANI & Simona SCABROSETTI, 2011. "The distributional impact of privatization in developing countries: the role of democratic institutions," Departmental Working Papers 2011-31, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    15. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:145-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Lars P. Feld & Christoph A. Schaltegger, 2012. "Die Politische Ökonomik der Besteuerung," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(1-2), pages 116-136, February.
    17. Ivanyna, Maksym & von Haldenwang, Christian, 2012. "A comparative view on the tax performance of developing countries: Regional patterns, non-tax revenue and governance," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 6, pages 1-44.
    18. repec:hpe:journl:y:2017:v:220:i:1:p:139-172 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Mark Hallerberg & Carlos Scartascini, 2015. "Explaining Changes in Tax Burdens in Latin America: Does Politics Trump Economics?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 90997, Inter-American Development Bank.
    20. Pantelis Kammas & Vassilis Sarantides, 2015. "Do dictatorships redistribute more?," Working Papers 2015001, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Comprehensive dataset on taxation and public expenditure; POLITY2 index; Civil liberties; Tax structure; Public spending composition;

    JEL classification:

    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • P35 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Public Finance
    • P50 - Economic Systems - - Comparative Economic Systems - - - General

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