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The colonial origins of fiscal capacity: Evidence from patronage governors

Guo Xu ()

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2019, vol. 47, issue 2, 263-276

Abstract: We combine historical personnel data from the British colonial administration with modern public finance data to study the impact of colonial governors on fiscal capacity. Exploiting rule-based variation in the allocation of governors connected to their superior at the time of appointment, we find that modern-day countries exposed to more patronage governors exhibit lower fiscal capacity today. These negative effects are persistent over time and driven by indirect taxes that patronage governors disproportionately controlled in the colonial period. The results thus provide evidence for a public finance channel through which the effects of patronage appointments extend beyond decolonization.

Keywords: Fiscal capacity; Patronage; Colonialism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O1 H2 D73 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2019.01.001

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:47:y:2019:i:2:p:263-276