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How Does Neopatrimonialism Affect the African State? The Case of Tax Collection in Zambia


  • Christian von Soest

    () (GIGA Institute of African Affairs)


Following the neopatrimonialism paradigm, it can be hypothesised that in African states informal politics of the rulers infringe on the collection of taxes and in turn reduce state revenues. This article tests this proposition for the case of Zambia. The main finding is that there is no linear correlation between a neopatrimonial system and the collection of taxes. Neopatrimonial continuity in the country is evidenced by three factors; the concentration of political power, the award of personal favours and the misuse of state resources. De-spite this continuity, the revenue performance has increased considerably with the crea-tion of the semi-autonomous Zambia Revenue Authority. This demonstrates that the effect of neopatrimonialism on public policy in the African state is highly context-specific and dependent on the interaction with additional variables. Donor pressure has been the most important in the Zambian case. In order to apply neopatrimonialism for further empirical work on public policy in the African state, these additional variables have to be incorpo-rated into the analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian von Soest, 2006. "How Does Neopatrimonialism Affect the African State? The Case of Tax Collection in Zambia," GIGA Working Paper Series 32, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bates, Robert H & Collier, Paul, 1995. "The Politics and Economics of Policy Reform in Zambia," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 4(1), pages 115-143, May.
    2. International Monetary Fund, 2005. "Zambia; Enhanced Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries—Completion Point Document," IMF Staff Country Reports 05/137, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, 2002. "Fighting fiscal corruption: The case of the Tanzania Revenue Authority," CMI Working Papers WP 2002:3, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    4. World Bank, 2003. "Zambia : Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Review," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14695, The World Bank.
    5. Gero Erdmann & Ulf Engel, 2006. "Neopatrimonialism Revisited - Beyond a Catch-All Concept," GIGA Working Paper Series 17, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
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    Cited by:

    1. Moore, Mick, 2014. "Revenue Reform and Statebuilding in Anglophone Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 99-112.
    2. Gisselquist, Rachel M. & Leiderer, Stefan & Nino-Zarazua, Miguel, 2014. "Ethnic heterogeneity and public goods provision in Zambia: Further evidence of a subnational .diversity dividend," WIDER Working Paper Series 162, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Rakner, Lise, 2012. "Foreign Aid and Democratic Consolidation in Zambia," WIDER Working Paper Series 016, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Giulia Piccolino, 2014. "A Democratic Rentier State? Taxation, Aid Dependency, and Political Representation in Benin," GIGA Working Paper Series 253, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    5. Patrick Francois & Ilia Rainer & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "The Dictator's Inner Circle," NBER Working Papers 20216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Rose,Jonathan & Gowthaman,Balachandran, 2015. "Civil service recruitment in Comoros : a case of political clientelism in a decentralized state," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7428, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Neopatrimonialism; collection of revenue; tax systems; Zambia; African state; donors;

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