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Taxation and Development: What Have We Learned from Fifty Years of Research?

  • Richard M. Bird

    ()

    (University of Toronto)

We have learned a great deal about taxation and development over the last half-century. However, we still have much to learn. Even the best research answers to particular questions have usually turned out to be extremely difficult to apply in practice. Over the past fifty years what might be called the standard approach to tax and development has undergone a number of major model changes over the years but no magical fiscal medicine suitable for all has been found. In this brief paper I first attempt to provide a perspective on a half century of work and then to note some questions that seem to call for more research. I emphasize that even the best research is only one of many inputs in shaping public policy and suggest that to some extent the task we face is perhaps not so much to improve research on tax and development as it is to improve how we market what we learn to those who can, if they wish, put the knowledge to use. What is needed is less a non-existent ‘universal fix’ than a fiscal medicine kit containing a variety of remedies and treatments that may help developing countries to cope with the wide variety of fiscal problems that arise at different times and often in different ways.

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File URL: http://icepp.gsu.edu/files/2015/03/ispwp1202.pdf
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Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper1202.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 13 Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1202
Contact details of provider: Phone: 404-413-0235
Fax: 404-413-0244
Web page: http://aysps.gsu.edu/isp/index.html

References listed on IDEAS
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  1. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," NBER Working Papers 15071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bird, Richard M. & Zolt, Eric M., 2005. "The limited role of the personal income tax in developing countries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 928-946, December.
  3. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Richard M. Bird, 2011. "Value-Added Tax: Onward and Upward?," Chapters, in: The Elgar Guide to Tax Systems, chapter 6 Edward Elgar.
  4. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521877657 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Bahl, Roy W. & Bird, Richard M., 2008. "Tax Policy in Developing Countries: Looking Back—and Forward," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(2), pages 279-301, June.
  6. Alvin Rabushka, 2008. "Introduction to Taxation in Colonial America
    [Taxation in Colonial America]
    ," Introductory Chapters, Princeton University Press.
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