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Taxes, Efficiency, and Redistribution: Discriminatory Taxation of Villages in Ottoman Palestine, Southern Syria and Transjordan in the Sixteenth Century

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  • Metin Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Governments can tax productive activities with either uniform or discriminatory rates among taxpayers. Although discriminatory rates can cause productive inefficiency and require high cost of administration, they can be preferred because of their advantage in distributional flexibility. This paper studies the discriminatory taxation of production in the Fertile Crescent. Using information from the Ottoman tax registers, it examines the basis, distortionary effects, and distributional consequences of discriminatory rates quantitatively. The results challenge widely held beliefs about the basis for discriminatory rates in this region and the Ottoman government's motivation in adapting systems of taxation in newly conquered lands.

Suggested Citation

  • Metin Cosgel, 2002. "Taxes, Efficiency, and Redistribution: Discriminatory Taxation of Villages in Ottoman Palestine, Southern Syria and Transjordan in the Sixteenth Century," Working papers 2002-22, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-22
    Note: I thank Dhammika Dharmapala, David Feeny, an anonymous reviewer, and participants at the Economic History and Development Workshop at UMass, Amherst; the 2002 Annual Cliometrics Conference in La Crosse, WI; the 2002 Economic History Association Meetings in St. Louis, MO, and the 2002 Middle East Studies Association Meetings in Washington, DC for helpful comments and suggestions. Ali Ozdemir, Hesna Taskomur, and Sadik Yildirim provided valuable research assistance.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Holcombe, Randall G., 1998. "Tax Policy From a Public Choice Perspective," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 51(2), pages 359-371, June.
    2. Slemrod, Joel, 1990. "Optimal Taxation and Optimal Tax Systems," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 157-178, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Soumyananda Dinda & Arijit Mukherjee, 2011. "International Outsourcing, Tax, and Patent Protection," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(1), pages 139-154, February.

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    Keywords

    taxes; efficiency; redistribution; discriminatory rates; Ottoman Empire; Palestine; Syria; Transjordan;

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