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Identifying the Rich: Registration, Taxation, and Access to the State in Tanzania

Bowles, Jeremy; (2023) Identifying the Rich: Registration, Taxation, and Access to the State in Tanzania. American Political Science Review 10.1017/s0003055423000394. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

How do states build their informational capacity? This article argues that distributive politics conditions how the state’s capacity develops. I study civil registration, where citizens comply with the state’s informational demands in exchange for documentary proof of identity, which may simultaneously facilitate access to public resources and exposure to taxation. Though the rich are particularly threatened by taxation, the narrow benefits of registration induce their compliance over that of the poor. I leverage a set of reforms in early postindependence Tanzania which provide quasi-random variation in citizens’ registration status and show that registration promotes access to narrow-based resources, rather than broad-based ones, while increasing tax payment. In turn, citizens’ decisions to comply reflect the economically stratified local incidence of these net benefits. The results suggest how nominally universal state-building schemes can have regressive effects on the state’s coverage.

Type: Article
Title: Identifying the Rich: Registration, Taxation, and Access to the State in Tanzania
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/s0003055423000394
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055423000394
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10181095
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