Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Tax Me If You Can: Ethnic Geography, Democracy, and the Taxation of Agriculture in Africa

  • KIMULI KASARA (a1)
Abstract

It is typically assumed that African leaders enact policies that benefit their ethnoregional group using all types of patronage. Crop production and political power are geographically concentrated in many African countries, and this paper exploits this overlap to cast doubt on this conventional wisdom. It shows, using data on 50 country-crop combinations, that cash crop farmers who are ethnically identified with the head of state face higher taxes. Furthermore, democratic regimes impose lower taxes. This paper shows that farmers who have few alternatives face higher taxes. African leaders have used local intermediaries to exert control over the countryside and to ensure that farmers do not support alternative candidates. It suggests that as leaders are better at selecting and monitoring these intermediaries in their home areas, they can extract more from the majority at home than abroad using taxes on cash crops, which are regionally but not individually targetable.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Kimuli Kasara is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.
References
Hide All
Akiyama Takamasa, John Baffes, Donald F. Larson, and Panos Varangis. 2003. “Commodity Market Reform in Africa: Some Recent Experience.” World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Paper 2995.
Alila Patrick O. 1986. Kenya's Parliamentary Elections: Ethnic politics in two rural constituencies in Nyanza. Nairobi, Kenya: Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.
Amphas Mbow M. 2000. Political Transformation of the Congo. Edinburgh: The Pentland Press.
Azam Jean-Paul. 2001. The Redistributive State and Conflicts in Africa. Working Paper. Center for the Study of African Economies. WPS/2001.3.
Azam Jean-Paul, and Najiounom Djimtoingar. 2002. “Cotton, War and Growth in Chad (1960–2000).” Working Paper AERC Explaining Economic Growth Experience Project.
Baffes John. 2001. Policy Reform Experience in Cotton Markets. In Commodity Market Reforms. Lessons of Two Decades, ed. T. Akiyama, J. Baffes, D. F. Larson, and P. Varangis. Washington, DC: World Bank.
Bardhan Pranab, and Dilip Mookherjee. 2000. “Capture and Governance at Local and National Levels.” American Economic Review 90 (2): 13539.
Barkan Joel D. 1976. “A Reassessment of the Conventional Wisdom About the Informed Public: Comment: Further Reassessment of “Conventional Wisdom:” Political Knowledge and Voting Behavior in Rural Kenya.” American Political Science Review 70 (2): 45255.
Bates Robert H. 1981. Markets and States in Tropical Africa: The political basis of agricultural policies. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bates Robert H. 1983. “Modernization, Ethnic Competition and the Rationality of Politics.” In State versus Ethnic Claims: African Policy Dilemmas, ed. D. Rothchild and V. A. Olunsorola. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Bates Robert H. 1989. Beyond the Miracle of the Market: The Political Economy of Agrarian Development in Kenya. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Besley Timothy. 1997. “Monopsony and Time-Consistency: Sustainable Pricing Policies for Perennial Crops.” Review of Development Economics 1 (1): 5770.
Bingen James R. 1998. Cotton, Democracy and Development in Mali. Journal of Modern African Studies 36 (2): 26585.
Binswanger Hans P., and Klaus Deininger. 1997. Explaining Agricultural and Agrarian Policies in Developing Countries. Journal of Economic Literature 35 (4): 19582005.
Boone Catherine. 2003. Political Topographies of the African State: Territorial Authority and Institutional Choice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bratton Michael, and Nicholas van de Walle. 1997. Democratic Experiments in Africa: Regime Transitions in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Burgess Robin, and Nicholas Stern. 1993. “Taxation and Development.” Journal of Economic Literature 1993 31 (2).
Chandra Kanchan. 2004. Why Ethnic Parties Succeed: Patronage and Ethnic Headcounts in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Clark John F. 1994. “Elections, Leadership, and Democracy in Congo.” Africa Today 41 (3): 4161.
Cox Gary, and Matthew D. McCubbins. 1986. “Electoral Politics as a Redistributive Game.” Journal of Politics 48: 37089.
Cruise O'Brien Donal B. 1975. Saints and Politicians. Essays in the organization of a Senegalese peasant society. London: Cambridge University Press.
Dahlberg Matz, and Eva Johansson. 2002. “On the Vote-Purchasing Behavior of Incumbent Governments.” American Political Science Review 96 (1): 2740.
Decalo Samuel. 1995. Historical Dictionary of Benin. 3rd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.
Decalo Samuel, Virginia Thompson, and Richard Adloff. 1996. Historical Dictionary of Congo. Rev. ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.
Diaz-Cayeros Alberto, Beatriz Magaloni, and Federico Estévez. 2003. “Electoral Risk and Redistributive Politics in Mexico and The United States.” Working Paper. Stanford University.
Dixit Avinash, and John Londregan. 1996. “The Determinants of Success of Special Interests in Redistributive Politics.” The Journal of Politics 58 (4): 113255.
Fearon James D. 1999. “Why Ethnic Politics and Pork Tend to go Together.” Working Paper. Stanford University.
Fearon James D., and David D. Laitin. 2003. “Ethnicity, Insurgency, and Civil War.” American Political Science Review 97 (1): 7590.
Ferree Karen, and Smita Singh. 2002. “Political Institutions and Economic Growth in Africa: 1970–1995.” In Coping with Globalization: Cross-National Patterns in Domestic Governance and Policy, ed. S. Chan and J. Scarritt. Boulder, CA: Frank Cass.
Food and Agriculture Organization (U.N.). 2003. FAO Statistical Databases (FAOSTAT). FAO 2001 [cited June 2003].
Groseclose Tim, and James M. Snyder Jr.. 1996. “Buying Supermajorities.” American Political Science Review 90 (2): 30315.
Herbst Jeffrey. 2000. States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ichino Nahomi. 2006. Thugs and Voters: Tournament Parties in Nigeria. Unpublished Manuscript.
International Monetary Fund. 2003. International Financial Statistics Online. International Monetary Fund 2003 [cited June 2003]. Available from http://ifs.apdi.net/imf/logon.aspx.
Jaeger William K. 1992. “The Effects of Economic Policies on African Agriculture.” World Bank Discussion Paper 147.
Kanyinga Karuti. 1994. “Ethnicity, Patronage and Class in a Local Arena: “High” and “Low” Politics in Kiambu, Kenya 1982–92.” In The New Local-Level Politics in East Africa. Studies on Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya, ed. P. Gibbon. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.
Keller Edmond J. 1981. “Ethiopia: Revolution, Class, and the National Question.” African Affairs 80 (321): 51949.
Khemani Stuti. 2003. “Partisan Politics and Intergovernmental Transfers in India.” Working Paper. World Bank.
Krueger Anne O., Maurice Schiff, and Alberto Valdés, eds. 1991. The Political Economy of Agricultural Pricing Policy. Vol. 4 A Synthesis of the Economics in Developing Countries. Baltimore: Published for the World Bank [by] Johns Hopkins University Press.
Lemarchand René. 1972. “Political Clientelism and Ethnicity in Tropical Africa: Competing Solidarities in Nation-Building.” American Political Science Review 66 (1): 6890.
Levi Margaret. 1988. Of Rule and Revenue. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Leys Colin. 1974. Underdevelopment in Kenya. The Political Economy of Neo-Colonialism, 1964–1971. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lindbeck Assar, and Jorgen Weibull. 1995. “Balanced Budget Redistribution as the outcome of Political Competition.” Public Choice 52 (3): 27397.
Lipton Michael. 1977. Why Poor People Stay Poor: Urban Bias in World Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Lofchie Michael F. 1989. The Policy Factor: Agricultural Performance in Kenya and Tanzania. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Lofchie Michael F. 1994. “The Politics of Agricultural Policy.” In Beyond Capitalism vs. Socialism in Kenya & Tanzania, ed. J. D. Barkan. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
McMillan Margaret. 2001. “Why Kill the Golden Goose? A Political Economy of Model of Export Taxation.” Review of Economics and Statistics 83 (1): 17084.
Miguel Edward, and Farhan Zaidi. 2003. “Do Politicians Reward their Supporters? Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Ghana.” Working Paper. University of California Berkeley.
Ngaruko Floribert, and Janvier D. Nkurunziza. 2000. “An Economic Interpretation of Conflict in Burundi.” Journal of African Economies 9 (3): 370409.
Olson Mancur. 1993. “Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development.” American Political Science Review 87 (3): 56776.
Padró i Miquel Gerard. 2004. “The Control of Politicians in Divided Societies: The Politics of Fear.” Working Paper.
Platteau Jean-Phillipe. 2004. “Monitoring Elite Capture in Community-Driven Development.” Development and Change 35 (2): 22346.
Przeworski Adam, Michael Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub, and Fernando Limongi. 2000. Democracy and Development. Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950–1990. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Reinikka Ritva, and Jakob Svensson. 2001. “Explaining Leakage of Public Funds.” Working Paper.
République Populaire du Congo. Direction de la Statistique Agricole. 1990. Annuair des Statistiques Agricoles et Alimentaires 1989. Yaounde: Republique Populaire du Congo.
Shepherd Andrew W., and Stefano Farolfi. 1999. Export Crop Liberalization in Africa: A Review. Vol. 135, FAO Agricultural Services Bulletin. Rome: FAO.
van de Walle Nicholas. 1989. “Rice Politics in Cameroon: State Commitment, Capability, and Urban Bias.” Journal of Modern African Studies 27 (4): 57999.
van der Laan H. Laurens. 1987. “Marketing West Africa's Export Crops: Modern Boards and Colonial Trading Companies.” Journal of Modern African Studies 25 (1): 124.
Varshney Ashutosh. 1995. Democracy, development, and the countryside: urban-rural struggles in India. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press.
Vreeland James. 2003. The IMF and Economic Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Widner Jennifer. 1994. “Single Party Systems and Agricultural Policies: The Cases of Ivory Coast and Kenya.” Comparative Politics 26 (2): 12747.
Williams Gavin. 1985. “Marketing Without and with Marketing Boards: The Origins of State Marketing Boards in Nigeria.” Review of African Political Economy 12 (34): 415.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed