Taxation without Representation? Experimental Evidence from Ghana and Uganda on Citizen Action toward Taxes, Oil, and Aid


Seminal arguments in political economy hold that citizens will more readily demand accountability from governments for taxes than for non-tax revenue from oil or aid. Two identical experiments on large, representative subject pools in Ghana and Uganda probe the effects of different revenue types on citizens' actions to monitor government spending. Roughly half of all subjects willingly sign petitions and donate money in order to scrutinize all three sources. However, neither Ghanaians nor Ugandans are more likely to take action for tax revenues than for oil or aid. Results also suggest no differences among taxes, oil and aid in citizens' perceptions of transparency, misappropriation risk, or public goods provision. Results are robust to numerous alternative speciffications and subgroup partitions, including the better educated, wealthier, and taxpaying population, suggesting a need for rethinking the axiom that taxation strengthens citizens' demands for accountability in developing countries.


Available at: World Bank Policy Research Working Papers. No. WPS8137. The World Bank. July 2017.

Last updated on 07/05/2017