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The Origins of Social Contracts: Attitudes toward Taxation in Urban Nigeria

  • Cristina Bodea
  • Adrienne LeBas
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    How do social contracts come into being?� This paper argues that norm adoption plays an important and neglected role in this process.� Using novel data from urban Nigeria, we examine why individuals adopt norms favoring a citizen obligation to pay tax where state enforcement is weak.� We find that public goods delivery by the state produces the willingness to pay tax, but community characteristics also have a strong and independent effect on both social contract norms and actual tax payment.� Individuals are less likely to adopt pro-tax norms if they have access to community provision of security and other services.� In conflict-prone communities, where "self-help" provision of club goods is less effective, individuals are more likely to adopt social contract norms.� Finally, we show that social contract norms substantially boost tax payment.� This paper has broad implications for literatures on state formation, taxation, clientelism, and public goods provision.

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    File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/12625/csae-wps-2013-02.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number WPS/2013-02.

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    Date of creation: 24 Jan 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:wps/2013-02
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    Web page: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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    1. Habyarimana, James P. & Humphreys, Macartan & Posner, Daniel N. & Weinstein, Jeremy, 2006. "Why Does Ethnic Diversity Undermine Public Goods Provision? An Experimental Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 2272, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Raphaёl Franck & Ilia Rainer, 2012. "Does the Leader’s Ethnicity Matter? Ethnic Favoritism, Education and Health in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 2012-06, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Arvind Subramanian, 2003. "Addressing the natural resource curse: An illustration from Nigeria," Discussion Papers 0203-15, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
    5. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Fafchamps, Marcel, 1992. "Solidarity Networks in Preindustrial Societies: Rational Peasants with a Moral Economy," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 147-74, October.
    7. Alessandra Cassar & Bruce Wydick, 2010. "Does social capital matter? Evidence from a five-country group lending experiment," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 715-739, October.
    8. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    9. Golden, M. & Picci, L., 2007. "Pork Barrel Politics in Postwar Italy, 1953–1994," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0767, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
    11. James Alm & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2005. "Russian Attitudes Toward Paying Taxes ? Before, During, and After the Transition," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-27, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    12. Bates, Robert H. & Lien, Da-Hsiang Donald., 1985. "A Note on Taxation, Development and Representative Government," Working Papers 567, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    13. Leonard Wantchekon, 2003. "Clientelism and voting behavior: Evidence from a field experiment in benin," Natural Field Experiments 00339, The Field Experiments Website.
    14. Cox, Donald & Jimenez, Emmanuel, 1998. "Risk Sharing and Private Transfers: What about Urban Households?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(3), pages 621-37, April.
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