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Risk, Transaction Costs, and Tax Assignment: Government Finance in the Ottoman Empire

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  • Metin M. Cosgel

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Risk and transaction costs often provide competing explanations of institutional outcomes. In this paper we argue that they offer opposing predictions regarding the assignment of fixed and variable taxes in a multi-tiered governmental structure. While the central government can pool regional risks from variable taxes, local governments can measure variable tax bases more accurately. Evidence on tax assignment from the mid-sixteenth century Ottoman Empire supports the transaction cost explanation, suggesting that risk matters less because insurance can be obtained in a variety of ways.

Suggested Citation

  • Metin M. Cosgel & Thomas J. Miceli, 2003. "Risk, Transaction Costs, and Tax Assignment: Government Finance in the Ottoman Empire," Working papers 2003-04, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2003-04 Note: We wish to thank the editor of the JOURNAL and two anonymous referees, the participants and discussants at the 2002 Annual Cliometrics Conference in La Crosse, WI; the 2003 Alumni Workshop in Iowa City, IA; and the 2003 Social Science History Association meetings in Baltimore, MD for helpful comments and suggestions. Ali Ozdemir, Sadik Yildirim, and Huseyin Yilmaz provided valuable research assistance.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. CoĊŸgel, Metin M. & Miceli, Thomas J. & Rubin, Jared, 2012. "The political economy of mass printing: Legitimacy and technological change in the Ottoman Empire," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 357-371.
    2. Mehmet Serkan Tosun & Serdar Yilmaz, 2010. "Centralization, Decentralization And Conflict In The Middle East And North Africa," Middle East Development Journal (MEDJ), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 2(01), pages 1-14.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Ottoman Empire; public finance; taxation; risk; transaction costs; tax assignment;

    JEL classification:

    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries

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