ICTD Working Paper 24

Despite significant evidence of ‘political budget cycles’ affecting public expenditure, studies of the impact of elections on tax collection have reached mixed conclusions. Drawing on significantly improved government revenue data, this paper finds, contrary to earlier research, that when we focus on all executive elections in developing countries there is no significant effect on levels of tax collection. Instead, the impact of elections on tax collection is conditional on elections being competitive, with competitive elections resulting in a negative impact on pre-election tax collection, split relatively evenly between direct and indirect taxes. The magnitude of the effect is large, reaching as much as 0.5 per cent of GDP in some specifications, and has important implications for understanding the incentive effects of elections and the connections between elections and effective governance.


Wilson Prichard

Wilson Prichard is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, and Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Tax and Development. His research focuses on the relationship between taxation and citizen demands for improved governance in sub-Saharan Africa.
Download (PDF)