Oil and Aid Revenue Produce Equal Demands for Accountability as Taxes in Ghana and Uganda


de la Cuesta, Brandon, et al. 2019. “Oil and Aid Revenue Produce Equal Demands for Accountability as Taxes in Ghana and Uganda”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Received wisdom argues that citizens more readily demand accountability from government for taxes than for non-tax revenue from oil or foreign aid, giving rise to an important mechanism underlying the resource curse. However, in developing countries, obfuscation through value-added taxes and strong popular feelings of ownership over all revenues may minimize differences across revenue sources. Identical experiments on representative samples of Ghanaians and Ugandans and similar experiments on members of parliament probe the effects of different sources and delivery channels of government revenues on citizens’ actions to monitor governments and MPs’ beliefs about accountability pressures. Roughly half of all citizens take action to monitor all three sources. But neither Ghanaians nor Ugandans demand more accountability for taxes than oil or aid when the revenues go to the government. MPs likewise saw no difference. Citizens do differentiate between aid money given to non-governmental organizations compared to revenues delivered to the government. Findings are robust to numerous alternatives and subgroups. Against strong expectations from prior research, little evidence exists showing that taxes strengthen citizens’ demands for accountability or that MPs perceive differences across revenue sources in these two representative African countries. However, aid channeled through NGOs motivates more accountability pressures.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 08/21/2019