Taxing with Dictators and Democrats: Regime Effects, Transfers and Revenue in Argentina’s Provinces

Melissa Ziegler Rogers


Political institutions strongly influence incentives to tax. In this article, I examine differences across national regimes in provincial taxation in Argentina from 1959–2001 and compare them to sub-national regimes under national democracy. I argue that elections fundamentally shape taxation by guiding career incentives of provincial leaders. Under autocratic regimes, sub-national leaders have strong motivation to tax because they answer to national leaders who reward extraction. I find that national autocrats tax at higher levels, using more difficult taxes. In democratic systems, governors judged by local constituents use political resources to avoid taxation. Governors in closed electoral regimes generally collect less tax revenue than governors in competitive provinces, but this effect is largely driven by national coalition-building and privileged access to national resources. An important difference across sub-national regime type is incidence – closed provinces extract disproportionately from the dependent business sector.

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