Building Support for Taxation in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Mexico

Date: 

Thursday, April 7, 2016, 4:10pm to 5:30pm

Location: 

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, 124 Mount Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Please join us for the next presentation of the Ash Center's Comparative Democracy Seminar Series. Gustavo Flores-Macías is an Assistant Professor of Government and Director of the Latin American Studies Program at Cornell University.  His talk is entitled: "Building Support for Taxation in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Mexico."

Background
In spite of the importance of taxation for political and economic development, we know relatively little about the conditions under which citizens might not exact a political cost on leaders for adopting a particular tax. Drawing on insights from the literature on institutional design, Flores-Macías's research examines how certain features of taxes—such as allowing for civil society oversight, sunset provisions that make the duration finite, and earmark mechanisms that direct tax revenue for a specific purpose—affect political support behind them. He also evaluates the role of three important aspects of the fiscal exchange, namely trust in government, perceptions of the public good, and level of income. Based on an original survey experiment focusing on the provision of public safety in Mexico, Flores-Macías finds that these design features increase support for taxation, especially among those with low trust in government, perceptions of high quality of the public good, and low income. These findings have important implications for Mexico but also a number of other countries that have both low levels of extraction and increased public spending imperatives.

About the Speaker
Gustavo Flores-Macías is Assistant Professor of Government and Director of the Latin American Studies Program at Cornell University. His research on the politics of economic reform, taxation, and state capacity has appeared in such journals as the American Political Science Review, Comparative Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Democracy, Journal of Politics, Peace Review, Political Science Quarterly, Studies in Comparative International Development, and as chapters in edited volumes. He is the author of After Neoliberalism? The Left and Economic Reforms in Latin America (Oxford University Press 2012), which won the Latin American Studies Association's Tomassini Award. Before academia, he served as Director of Public Affairs in Mexico's Consumer Protection Agency. 

 

Listen to a recording of the event.