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

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  • Bird, Richard M.

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Bird, Richard M., 2013. "Taxation and Development: What Have We Learned from Fifty Years of Research?," Working Papers 11255, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:idq:ictduk:11255
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    File URL: https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/handle/123456789/11255
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. N. Gregory Mankiw & Matthew Weinzierl & Danny Yagan, 2009. "Optimal Taxation in Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 147-174, Fall.
    2. Alvin Rabushka, 2008. "Introduction to Taxation in Colonial America," Introductory Chapters,in: Taxation in Colonial America Princeton University Press.
    3. 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.
    4. Breton,Albert, 1996. "Competitive Governments," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521481021.
    5. Bird,Richard & Gendron,Pierre-Pascal, 2011. "The VAT in Developing and Transitional Countries," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107401440.
    6. Bahl, Roy W. & Bird, Richard M., 2008. "Tax Policy in Developing Countries: Looking Back—and Forward," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 61(2), pages 279-301, June.
    7. 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 Publishing.
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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. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge, 2013. "Taxation and Development: a Review of Donor Support to Strengthen Tax Systems in Developing Countries," Working Papers 13683, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.
    3. repec:eee:wdevel:v:105:y:2018:i:c:p:13-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Leonce Ndikumana, 2014. "International Tax Cooperation and Implications of Globalization," CDP Background Papers 024, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
    5. repec:taf:rehdxx:v:32:y:2017:i:1:p:37-70 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Economic Development;

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