Skip to main content Accessibility help

Does democratisation foster effective taxation? Evidence from Benin*

  • Giulia Piccolino (a1)


Fiscal sociology has alleged the existence of a mutually reinforcing effect between the emergence of representative government and effective taxation. This paper looks at Benin, a low-income country that successfully democratised in the early 1990s. It finds that Benin appears to have reinforced its extractive capacities since democratisation. However, the effect of democratisation has been indirect, while the influence of the International Financial Institutions (IFI) and the size of the country's informal sector have played a more direct role. Nevertheless, the hypothesis that effective taxation is based on a quasi-consensual relationship between the state and the taxpayers finds some confirmation.


Corresponding author


Hide All

This article has been drafted as part of the research project ‘The Economic, Social and Political Consequences of Democratic Reforms. A Quantitative and Qualitative Comparative Analysis’ (COD), funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant (Grant Agreement no. 262873, ‘Ideas’, 7th Framework Programme of the EU). The Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation, which funds the author's current position, has also supported the drafting of the article. The author would like to thank Giovanni Carbone, Alexander Stroh, Matthias Hounkpé and participants to the COD workshop held at the Università degli Studi di Milano in May 2013 for useful comments.



Hide All
Afrobarometer. 2011. Summary of results Round 5 Afrobarometer survey in Benin. Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy (IREEP) and Michigan State University, <>, accessed 21.2.2014.
Akindés, F. & Topanou, V.. 2005. Le contrôle parlementaire de l'action gouvernementale en République du Bénin: Une lecture sociologique. Programme Document no. 18. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
Allen, C. 1992. ‘Restructuring an authoritarian state: ‘democratic renewal’ in Benin’, Review of African Political Economy 19, 54: 4258.
Awoudo, F.K. 2005. Le mal transhumant: les infidélités politique dans le Bénin démocratique. Cotonou: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
Bako-Arifari, N. 2001. ‘La corruption au port de Cotonou: Douaniers et intermédiaires’, Politique africaine 3: 3858.
Banégas, R. 2003. La démocratie à pas de caméléon: transition et imaginaires politiques au Bénin. Paris: Karthala.
Baskaran, T. & Bigsten, A.. 2013. ‘Fiscal capacity and the quality of government in Sub-Saharan Africa’, World Development 45: 92107.
Bates, R. & Lien, D.H.D.. 1985. ‘A note on taxation, development, and representative government’, Politics and Society 14, 1: 5370.
Bayart, J.F. 2000. ‘Africa in the world: a history of extraversion’, African Affairs 99, 395: 217267.
Bierschenk, T. 2009. ‘Democratization without development: Benin 1989–2009’, International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 22, 3: 337357.
Bilal, S., Dalleau, M. & Lui, D.. 2012. Trade liberalisation and fiscal adjustments: the case of EPAs in Africa. Discussion Paper 137. Maastricht: European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM).
Bird, R.M. 2012. ‘Taxation and Development. What have we learned from fifty years of research?’, Georgia State University, International Center for Public Policy, Working Paper no. 12-02.
Blundo, G. & Olivier de Sardan, J.P.. 2006. Everyday Corruption and the State: citizens and public officials in Africa. London: Zed Books.
Boix, C. 2001. ‘Democracy, development and the public sector’, American Journal of Political Science 45, 1: 117.
Brautigam, D.A. 2000. Aid Dependence and Governance. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wicksell International.
Brautigam, D.A. 2008. ‘Introduction: taxation and statebuilding in developing countries’, in Brautigam, D.A., Fjeldstad, O-H. & Moore, M., eds. Taxation and State Building in Developing Countries: capacity and consent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 132.
Busse, M. & Großmann, H.. 2007. ‘The trade and fiscal impact of EU/ACP economic partnership agreements on West African countries’, Journal of Development Studies 43, 5: 787811.
Cheibub, J.A. 1998. ‘Political regimes and the extractive capacity of governments: taxation in democracies and dictatorships’, World Politics 50: 349–76.
Clapham, C. 1996. Africa and the International System: the politics of state survival. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Collier, P. 2006. ‘Is aid oil? An analysis of whether Africa can absorb more aid’, World Development 34, 9: 1482–97.
Di John, J. 2010. Taxation, resource mobilisation and state performance. Working Paper no. 84. London: Crisis States Research Centre, London School of Economics.
Djankov, S., Montalvo, J.G. & Reynal-Querol, M.. 2008. ‘The curse of aid’, Journal of Economic Growth 13, 3: 169–94.
Engels, J.N., Stroh, A. & Wantchékon, L.. 2008. Le Fonctionnement des Partis Politiques au Bénin. Cotonou: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
Fjeldstad, O.H. & Moore, M.. 2008. ‘Tax reform and statebuilding in a globalized world’, in Brautigam, D.A., Fjeldstad, O-H. & Moore, M., eds. Taxation and State Building in Developing Countries: capacity and consent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 235–60.
Fjeldstad, O.H., Therkildsen, O., Rakner, L. & Semboja, J.. 2000. ‘Taxation, aid and democracy: an agenda for research in African countries’, Working Paper no. 4. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.
Fossat, P. & Bua, M.. 2013. ‘Tax administration reform in the Francophone countries of Sub-Saharan Africa’, Working Paper no. 13/173. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.
Gazibo, M. 2005. ‘Foreign aid and democratization: Benin and Niger compared’, African Studies Review 48, 3: 6787.
Gazibo, M. 2012. ‘Beyond electoral democracy: foreign aid and the challenge of deepening democracy in Benin’, Working Paper No. 2012/33. Helsinki: United Nations University World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
Gisselquist, R.M. 2008. ‘Democratic transition and democratic survival in Benin’, Democratization 15, 4: 789814.
Gnansounou, S.U., Houetohossou, S. & Houedokou, W.. 2010. ‘Problèmatique de l’élargissement de l'assiette fiscale au Bénin: Analyse de la contribution des Centres de Gestion Agrées (CGA)’, Working Paper no. 9. République du Bénin, Projet de Renforcement de capacités en conception et analyse des politiques de développement. <>, accessed 21.02.2014.
Groupe de Travail Fiscalité. 2012. Plateforme 2012 des propositions fiscales du Secteur Privé Béninois au sujet du projet de loi de finances gestion 2013. Cotonou: Republic of Benin.
Gupta, S. & Tareq, S.. 2008. ‘Mobilizing revenue: strengthening domestic revenue bases is key to creating fiscal space for Africa's developmental needs’, Finance and Development 45, 3: 44–7.
Heilbrunn, J.R. 1993. ‘Social origins of national conferences in Benin and Togo’, Journal of Modern African Studies 31, 2: 277–99.
Hoffman, P.T. & Norberg, K.. 1994. Fiscal Crises, Liberty, and Representative Government 1450–1789. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Igué, J. & Puech, F.. 2008. Plaidoyer pour la Structuration du Secteur Informel au Bénin: Version finale. Cotonou: Projet d'Appui au Secteur Privé (PASP), European Union and Republic of Benin.
Igue, J. & Soulé, B.G.. 1992. L’État Entrepôt au Bénin: commerce informel ou solution à la crise? Paris: Karthala.
Institut National de la Statistique et de l'Analyse Économique (INSAE) 2010. Recensement Général des Entreprises, 2ème Edition (RGE 2). Cotonou: INSAE.
INSAE 2011. Enquête Modulaire Intégrée sur les Condition de Vie des Menages (EMICoV). Enquête de Suivi 2010. Cotonou: INSAE.
INSAE 2012. Enquête Modulaire Intégrée sur les Conditions de Vie des ménages, 2ème Edition. EMICoV 2011. Cotonou: INSAE.
Jensen, N. & Wantchekon, L.. 2004. ‘Resource wealth and political regimes in Africa’, Comparative Political Studies 37, 4: 816841.
Karl, T.L. 1997. The Paradox of Plenty: oil booms and petro-states. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Knack, S. 2009. ‘Sovereign rents and quality of tax policy and administration’, Journal of Comparative Economics 37: 359–71.
Levi, M. 1989. Of Rule and Revenue. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Lieberman, E. 2002. ‘Taxation data as indicators of state-society relations: possibilities and pitfalls in cross-national research’, Studies in Comparative International Development 36, 4: 89115.
Mkandawire, T. 2010. ‘On tax efforts and colonial heritage in Africa’, Journal of Development Studies 46, 10: 1647–69.
Moore, M. 2004. ‘Revenues, state formation, and the quality of governance in developing countries’, International Political Science Review 25, 3: 297319.
Moss, T., Pettersson, G. & Van de Walle, N.. 2006. ‘An Aid-institutions Paradox? A review essay on aid dependency and state building in sub-Saharan Africa’, Working Paper no. 74. New York: Center for Global Development.
Mulligan, C.B., Gil, R. and Sala-i-Martin, X.. 2004. ‘Do democracies have different public policies than nondemocracies?’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 18, 1: 5174.
North, D.C. & Weingast, B.R.. 1989. ‘Constitutions and commitment: the evolution of institutional governing public choice in seventeenth-century England’, Journal of Economic History 49, 4: 803–32.
Olivier de Sardan, J.P. 2004. État, bureaucratie et gouvernance en Afrique de l'Ouest francophone. Politique africaine, 4: 139–62.
Olson, M. 1993. ‘Dictatorship, democracy, and development’, American Political Science Review 87, 3: 567–76.
Pfeiffer, C. & Englebert, P.. 2012. ‘Extraversion, vulnerability to donors, and political liberalization in Africa’, African Affairs 111, 444: 355–78.
Raynaud, M., Akuesson, S. & Aliha, S.. 2007. ‘Etude sur le système fiscal Béninois. Impact du système fiscal sur l'entreprise et le secteur privé’, Evaluation Report no. 1. Cotonou: Support to the Private Sector Project, Republic of Benin, Ministry of Industry and Trade, and European Commission.
Republic of Benin. 2008. ‘Arrêté n. 3177 portant création du cadre de concertation entre le Ministère de l'Economie et des Finances et le secteur prive’. Cotonou: Ministry of Economics and Finances, Republic of Benin.
Republic of Benin. 2011. ‘Le secteur informel au Benin: problématique et perspectives de contribution à l’économie nationale’. Cotonou: Economic and Social Council, Republic of Benin.
Ross, M. 1999. ‘Political economy of resource curse’, World Politics 51: 297322.
Ross, M. 2001. ‘Does oil hinder democracy?’, World Politics 53: 325–61.
Schmitter, P. 2005. Democratization and State Capacity. Santiago, Chile: 10th International Conference, Centro Latinoamericano de Administración para el Desarrollo.
Schumpeter, J. 1918 [1954]. ‘The Crisis of the Tax State’. International Economic Papers.
Sen Gupta, A. 2007. ‘Determinants of Tax Revenue Efforts in Developing Countries’, Working Paper 07/184. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.
Von Soest, C.. 2007. ‘How does neopatrimonialism affect the African state's revenues? The case of tax collection in Zambia’, Journal of Modern African Studies 45, 4: 621–45.
Von Soest, C., Bechle, K. & Korte, N.. 2011. ‘How neopatrimonialism affects the tax administration in three world regions?’, Third World Quarterly 32, 7: 1307–29.
Thies, C.G. 2007. ‘The political economy of statebuilding in Sub-Saharan Africa’, Journal of Politics 69, 3: 716–31.
Tilly, C. 1993. Coercion, Capital and European States: AD 990–1992. Oxford: Blackwell.
Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine (UEMOA) 2006. ‘Décision n. 10/2006/CM/UEMOA portant adoption du Programme de Transition Fiscale au sein de l'UEMOA’.
Wantchekon, L. 2003. ‘Clientelism and voting behavior: evidence from a field experiment in Benin’, World Politics 55, 3: 399422.
Custom officer, Cotonou, 29.3.2013.
Entrepreneur representative, Cotonou, 2.4.2013.
Governance consultant, Cotonou, 21.3.2013.
Member of Parliament (MP) A, Cotonou, 20.5.2013.
Member of Parliament (MP) B, Cotonou, 23.5.2013.
Parliamentary assistant, Porto Novo 12.4.2013.
Political analyst, Cotonou, 15.5.2013.
Researcher, Cotonou, 19.3.2013.
Secretary of employer association, Cotonou, 26.3.2013.
Senior tax officer A, Cotonou, 8.4.2013.
Senior tax officer B, Cotonou, 25.3.2013.
Senior tax officer C, Cotonou, 23.5.2013.
Recommend this journal

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

The Journal of Modern African Studies
  • ISSN: 0022-278X
  • EISSN: 1469-7777
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-modern-african-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


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