Are There Any Reliable Data on Wages in Low-Income Countries? Observations and Lessons from Ethiopia

Authors: Andualem Mengistu & Giulia Mascagni
Publisher: ICTD
Date: September 2018

Abstract:

African Tax Administration Paper 3

Administrative data from tax returns have recently become available in many African countries thanks to the modernisation of revenue authorities and the digitisation of tax records. The availability of these data has opened new opportunities for policy-relevant analysis of real-life taxpaying behaviour. However, despite the increased availability of these data, a gap remains in many countries in relation to administrative records on employment incomes. Without these records, it is very difficult to obtain a realistic picture of income distribution and its evolution, and to understand how policies and macroeconomic conditions, such as high inflation, affect the welfare of workers. In this study, we explore the current state of administrative wage data in Ethiopia and the main challenges that limit their availability and reliability, and identify three key patterns.