Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Department of International Development, University of London / London School of Economics and Political Science

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Political Science, University of California / Berkeley
The Distributional Politics of Tax Reform in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile

Latin America is the most unequal region in the world, yet economic elites are under-taxed. Improving the region's weak tax systems and enhancing state resources for investment in human capital and poverty alleviation depend significantly on extracting more revenue from upper income groups. However, taxing Latin American elites is a difficult challenge, given the power they exercise and their resistance to redistribution. This study explores the distributional politics of taxation in Latin America. Through what kinds of political processes are decisions made that allocate the tax burden across society? When will politicians propose measures to increase taxation of elites, and when might they succeed? Which groups mobilize in response to different tax measures, and how do they seek to influence tax policy? These issues will be addressed through research on Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, countries chosen for variation both on theoretically important institutional and organizational variables, and on [ use a parallel preposition] types and fates of proposed progressive tax measures. The study focuses on all major tax initiatives since about 1990, along with an additional set of proposed measures that would increase elite tax burdens. The policy process surrounding each measure will be explored through interviews and examination of documents. Systematic comparisons of tax measures over time within and across countries, plus process tracing, will provide strong leverage for causal assessment. Ultimately, a cross-national database of proposed tax measures throughout Latin America will be constructed to test statistically hypotheses developed in this study. By identifying mechanisms perpetuating under-taxation of elites and factors that may facilitate change, this project seeks to contribute to an interdisciplinary research program addressing Latin America's persistent inequality, a problem that hinders prospects for both growth and democratic stability.