Taxation and accountability in sub-Saharan Africa: new evidence for a governance dividend

Working and discussion papers
December 2018
Border money changer, Ghana/Togo. Photo: BBC World Service CC-BY-NC-ND

Historical experiences in the west suggest that taxation improves government accountability. However, for contemporary developing countries this connection is less clear, as their circumstances differ markedly from those encountered by western nations in the past.

Using new governance data, this paper shows that tax revenue, as opposed to non-tax revenue, and accountability are still positively linked in contemporary developing countries. This effect is mainly driven by direct taxation. From a policy perspective this is good news, as many donor agencies have appealed to the state-building narrative in their recent shift to domestic resource mobilisation - this paper presents evidence in support of that position.