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Taxes in the Time of Revolution: An Experimental Test of the Rentier State during Algeria's Hirak

Robert Kubinec and Helen Milner

No hu3vq, SocArXiv from Center for Open Science

Abstract: In this paper we examine the rentier thesis that a state's control over oil resources should help it resist calls for democratization. During Algeria's mass mobilization for regime change known as the Hirak in 2019, we implemented an interactive experimental treatment providing specific information about the Algerian government's high subsidies of gasoline and low value-added taxes with regional comparisons. Based on a sample of 5,968 Algerians, we find that when Algerians learn about their country's relatively high level of fuel subsidies and low level of taxes, their assessments of the government's performance improves; however, we do not see similar patterns for respondents' expressed intention to join the protests due to treatment heterogeneity defined by respondent wealth. Wealthier respondents report lower protest intentions upon learning about the scope of the rentier state, whereas poorer respondents report much higher protest intentions upon receiving the treatment. As a result, we find that the rentier state may be capable of improving perceptions of regime performance, yet still permit mass mobilization if there are class differences in the perceived benefits derived from redistribution.

Date: 2021-12-27
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp
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DOI: 10.31219/

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