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Democratic Choice and Taxation


  • 30 b/w illus. 19 tables
  • Page extent: 344 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.51 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: n/a
  • Dewey version: n/a
  • LC Classification: HJ2305 .H525 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Taxation
    • Taxing power

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521021807 | ISBN-10: 0521021804)

DOI: 10.2277/0521021804

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 02:45 GMT, 25 November 2015)


This work examines tax policies and tax systems as they arise from democratic choices, set against the background of a market economy. Professors Hettich and Winer find that democratic institutions yield complex tax systems with features that follow a varied but predictable pattern. In developing their analysis, the authors use formal modelling of voting behavior, emphasizing recent advances in the theory of probabilistic voting. This book differs from the available tax literature by relating fiscal choices directly to voting and by examining tax systems in democratic countries from a variety of perspectives. While the authors primarily focus on explaining observed features of tax systems, they also devote considerable space to the discussion of the welfare and efficiency effects of taxation in the presence of collective choice, and to a review of other models and of the related literature. In addition, they use computational general equilibrium analysis and statistical research on national and state governments in the US and Canada to link theory to empirical data.

• Presents a predictive analysis of tax policies and systems in democratic countries, not just US/Canada but Europe and Asia as well • Discusses how to evaluate the efficiency and welfare effects of taxation in both theoretical and applied contexts • Wide appeal, will be of interest to audiences in political science and sociology as well as economics


1. Introduction; Part I. Theoretical Framework: 2. Models of political economy and the study of taxation; 3. Foundations of democratic tax systems; 4. Tax structure in equilibrium: a more formal analysis; Part II. Collective Choice and the Normative Analysis of Taxation: 5. An assessment of normative tax theory; 6. Welfare politics and taxation; Part III. Applied General Equilibrium Analysis: 7. Tax policy in a computable model of economic and political equilibrium; Part IV. Statistical Analysis of Tax Structure: 8. Introduction to statistical research; 9. Income taxation and special provisions: evidence from the US states; 10. Debt and tariffs: the evolution of the Canadian revenue system; Part V. Political Institutions and Taxation: 11. Tax systems in congressional and parliamentary countries; 12. Conclusion; Endnotes; References; Index.


'Democratic Choice and Taxation is a book for specialists in public finance, graduate students, professors and economists in government and business … It is a learned book with extensive references, used in the text and not just cited in the bibliography, to the entire field of public finance. It is methodologically sophisticated with a self-conscious concern about how its picture of the world is to be verified or stacked up against conventional public finance.' Policy Options

'The positive analysis of taxation is a surprisingly small part of the work conducted in public finance, and this book does an excellent job reminding us of its present limits, and of pushing those frontiers back a bit. The book is very clearly written, eminently fair, and provides a nice sense of the present literature. Although the authors' approach to the politics of taxation is evident throughout, they do a fine job of presenting the strengths and weaknesses of alternative approaches. Democratic Choice and Taxation consequently, would make an excellent text book for a graduate course in public finance either as a core text in a course that carefully analyzes the politics of taxation, or as a secondary text in a more traditional public finance course.' Roger D. Congleton, Journal of Economic Literature

'This … is an integrated presentation of fifteen years of research that makes good use of the space that a book length treatment permits. The writing is lively and sometimes provocative … The big surprise, though, is the comparative analysis. In two ambitious chapters, the authors pose a common set of questions about tax structure to a number of different political economy models, including their own … this method is very effective in conveying the basic logic behind the different approaches. The result is a clarity and focus that move the entire book along … In sum, this is an overall excellent contribution to the theoretical and empirical study of tax structure and institutions. It should be of general interest to researchers in public finance, public choice, and political economy.' Canadian Journal of Economics

'The authors have contributed valuable insight to our knowledge of democratic tax politics, and I hope strongly that other scholars interested in exploring some of the interfaces of economics and politics will take inspiration from this book and pursue some of its themes … I can strongly recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in the political economy of taxation.' Richard E. Wagner, George Mason University Zeitschrift fur Nationaleconomie

'Hettich and Winer's monograph is a synthesis and extension of work that they have been involved in and which has appeared in journals. However it is not simply a collection of papers but is an ambitious book both in terms of the issues considered and particularly, at least to this reviewer, the range of techniques used. Theory, micro and macroeconometrics, and stimulation are all used here mostly to good effect. So there is something in here for everyone.' Kevin Denny, The Economic Journal

'Democratic Choice and Taxation is an impressive achievement and an enjoyable read. It deserves the attention of everyone interested in political economics and public choice, as well as those mainly interested in tax theory.' European Journal of Political Economy

'This book provides an excellent review and critical analysis of existing economic literature on tax systems and the political environment. Its many research suggestions are particularly appealing to researchers in public policy or public finance.' Journal of the American Taxation Association

'… the book is an extremely useful addition to the evolving literature.' Economica

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