Building Support for Taxation in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Mexico
Flores-Macías, Gustavo A.
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Drawing on insights from the literature on institutional design—how rules shape behavior to achieve desired outcomes—this article examines how certain design features of taxes—such as allowing for civil society oversight, earmark mechanisms that direct tax revenue for a specific purpose, and sunset provisions that make the duration of taxes finite—affect political support for tax reforms. It also evaluates how three important aspects of the fiscal exchange—trust in government, perceptions of the public good, and level of income—shape the effect of these design features. Based on an original survey experiment focusing on the provision of public safety in Mexico, I find that these design features increase political support for taxation, especially among those with low trust in government and low income. These findings have important implications not just for Mexico but also a number of other countries across Latin America that have both low levels of extraction and increased public spending imperatives.