IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Tax Structure Turbulence in OECD Countries


  • Ashworth, John
  • Heyndels, Bruno


This paper analyses whether and to what extent politicians manipulate tax structures strategically in order to win elections or for ideological purposes. We introduce an indicator for tax structure turbulence which measures the degree to which a country's tax structure changes from one year to another. Using data on 18 OECD countries over the period 1965-95, we find clear evidence of a political budget cycle in national tax structures. More precisely, we find that in election years, tax structures are changed significantly less than in other years. Further, the dispersion of political power significantly lowers the ability of governments to change the tax structure. We do not, however, find any evidence of partisan budget cycles in national tax systems following political regime changes. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Ashworth, John & Heyndels, Bruno, 2002. "Tax Structure Turbulence in OECD Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 111(3-4), pages 347-376, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:111:y:2002:i:3-4:p:347-76

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Gerald D. Cohen & Nouriel Roubini, 1991. "Macroeconomic Policy and Elections in OECD Democracies," NBER Working Papers 3830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "An Empirical Study of Politico-Economic Interaction in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 174-183, May.
    3. repec:dgr:rugsom:99e05 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Alberto Alesina & Gerald D. Cohen & Nouriel Roubini, 1992. "Macroeconomic Policy And Elections In Oecd Democracies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, March.
    5. Bizer, David S. & Durlauf, Steven N., 1990. "Testing the positive theory of government finance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 123-141, August.
    6. Volkerink, Bjørn & Haan, Jakob de, 1999. "Political and institutional determinants of the tax mix : an empirical investigation for OECD countries," Research Report 99E05, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
    7. Ben-Porath, Yoram, 1975. "The Years of Plenty and the Years of Famine-A Political Business Cycle?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 400-403.
    8. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini, 1992. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 663-688.
    9. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
    10. Poterba, James M, 1994. "State Responses to Fiscal Crises: The Effects of Budgetary Institutions and Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 799-821, August.
    11. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "The size and scope of government:: Comparative politics with rational politicians," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 699-735, April.
    12. de Haan, Jakob & Sturm, Jan-Egbert, 1997. "Political and economic determinants of OECD budget deficits and government expenditures: A reinvestigation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 739-750, December.
    13. Yoo, Keum-Rok, 1998. "Intervention Analysis of Electoral Tax Cycle: The Case of Japan," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 96(3-4), pages 241-258, September.
    14. Hettich,Walter & Winer,Stanley L., 2005. "Democratic Choice and Taxation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521021807, May.
    15. John Mikesell, 1978. "Election periods and state tax policy cycles," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 99-106, January.
    16. John Ashworth & Bruno Heyndels, 2000. "Politicians' Opinions on Tax Reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 117-138, April.
    17. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, January.
    18. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
    19. Cohen, Gerald & Alesina, Alberto & Roubini, Nouriel, 1992. "Macroeconomic Policy and Elections in OECD Democracies," Scholarly Articles 4553023, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    20. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1987. "The optimal collection of seigniorage : Theory and evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 327-341, September.
    21. Ashworth, John & Heyndels, Bruno, 2000. "Politicians' Opinions on Tax Reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1-2), pages 117-138, April.
    22. Hettich, W. & Winer, S.L., 1993. "The Political Economy of Taxation," Papers 8, Carleton - Business Administration.
    23. Blais, Andre & Nadeau, Richard, 1992. "The Electoral Budget Cycle," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 74(4), pages 389-403, December.
    24. Roubini, Nouriel & Alesina, Alberto, 1992. "Political Cycles in OECD Economies," Scholarly Articles 4553025, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    25. Kristin J. Forbes, 2000. "A Reassessment of the Relationship between Inequality and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 869-887, September.
    26. Edin, Per-Anders & Ohlsson, Henry, 1991. "Political determinants of budget deficits: Coalition effects versus minority effects," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 1597-1603, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Eric Dubois, 2016. "Political business cycles 40 years after Nordhaus," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 235-259, January.
    2. Angelopoulos, Konstantinos & Economides, George & Kammas, Pantelis, 2012. "Does cabinet ideology matter for the structure of tax policies?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 620-635.
    3. Konstantinos Angelopoulos & George Economides & Pantelis Kammas, 2009. "Do political incentives matter for tax policies? Ideology, opportunism and the tax structure," Working Papers 2009_12, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    4. Lucinda, Cláudio Ribeiro de & Arvate, Paulo Roberto, 2007. "Ideological changes and tax structure: Latin American countries during the nineties," Textos para discussão 168, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    5. Hansson, Åsa & Porter, Susan & Perry Williams, Susan, 2012. "The Effect of Political and Economic Factors on Corporate Tax Rates," Working Paper Series 942, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    6. Margarita Katsimi & Vassilis Sarantides, 2012. "Do elections affect the composition of fiscal policy in developed, established democracies?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 151(1), pages 325-362, April.
    7. Víctor Mauricio Castañeda, 2016. "Las crisis económicas y el escenario político en la introducción de reformas tributarias. La experiencia argentina (1980-2010) y una constatación para Latinoamérica," REVISTA CUADERNOS DE ECONOMÍA, UN - RCE - CID, vol. 35(Especial ), pages 173-206, January.
    8. Ashworth, John & Geys, Benny & Heyndels, Bruno, 2006. "Determinants of tax innovation: The case of environmental taxes in Flemish municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 223-247, March.
    9. Antoine Cazals & Pierre Mandon, 2015. "Political Budget Cycles: Manipulation of Leaders or Bias from Research? A Meta-Regression Analysis," Working Papers halshs-01238883, HAL.
    10. Antoine CAZALS & Pierre MANDON, 2016. "Political Budget Cycles: Manipulation from Leaders or Manipulation from Researchers? Evidence from a Meta-Regression Analysis," Working Papers 201609, CERDI.
    11. Antoine Cazals & Pierre Mandon, 2016. "Political Budget Cycles: Manipulation from Leaders or Manipulation from Researchers? Evidence from a Meta-Regression Analysis," Working Papers halshs-01320586, HAL.
    12. Geys, Benny & Vermeir, Jan, 2008. "The political cost of taxation: new evidence from German popularity ratings
      [Besteuerung und Popularität von Politikern: Neue Ergebnisse für die Deutsche Bundesregierung 1978-2003]
      ," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance SP II 2008-06, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    13. Niklas Potrafke, 2006. "Political Effects on the Allocation of Public Expenditures: Empirical Evidence from OECD Countries," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 653, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    14. Benny Geys & Jan Vermeir, 2008. "Taxation and presidential approval: separate effects from tax burden and tax structure turbulence?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 135(3), pages 301-317, June.
    15. Asatryan, Zareh & Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Heinemann, Friedrich, 2014. "The effect of direct democracy on the level and structure of local taxes," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-003, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    16. Helene Ehrhart, 2013. "Elections and the structure of taxation in developing countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 195-211, July.
    17. Åsa Hansson & Susan Porter & Susan Williams, 2015. "The importance of the political process on corporate tax policy," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 281-306, September.
    18. Víctor Mauricio Castañeda Rodríguez, 2014. "El gasto social como factor que favorece una mayor dependencia del IVA. Un análisis para el caso colombiano," REVISTA ECOS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD EAFIT, June.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:111:y:2002:i:3-4:p:347-76. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.