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Tax Structure, Size of Government, and the Extension of the Voting Franchise in Western Europe, 1860-1938

Toke Aidt and Peter S. Jense
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Peter Sandholt Jensen

Cambridge Working Papers in Economics from Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge

Abstract: We study the consequences of the extension of the voting franchise for the size of (central) government and for the tax structure in 10 Western European countries, 1860-1938. We show, .rstly, that the gradual relaxation of income and wealth restrictions on the right to vote contributed to growth in government spending and taxation. Secondly, we show that the impact of the franchise extension on the tax structure is conditional on tax collection costs. We find that the share of direct taxes (including the personal income tax) is positively affected by the franchise extension, but only if relative collection costs are below a given threshold. We use literacy as a proxy for the cost of levying a broad-based income tax.

Keywords: Voting franchise; democracy; public finance; taxation. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D7 H11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 29
Date: 2007-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-pbe, nep-pol and nep-pub
Note: Ec
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (21)

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Journal Article: Tax structure, size of government, and the extension of the voting franchise in Western Europe, 1860–1938 (2009) Downloads
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