This seminar is closed to the public.
Co-taught by Professors Robert Bates and Torben Iversen, the Research Workshop in Political Economy (Government 3007) is a year-long graduate seminar that aims to encourage cross-disciplinary research and excellence in graduate training. Political economy is a research tradition that explores how institutions affect political and economic outcomes. The workshop emphasizes the development of dissertation proposals and is a place where graduate students can present their research to an audience of committed and informed peers. It is open to graduate students in the Departments of Government and Economics, and the Program in Political Economy and Government. The workshop holds both internal and public seminars and meetings. At the internal meetings, approximately twelve per semester, graduate students and faculty present their own work to one another. At the public meetings, up to two per semester, leading scholars are invited to Harvard to present their work. Although the workshop is by invitation only, affiliates of the Weatherhead Center are encouraged to attend the public meetings.
Jon Weigel will be presenting his job market paper “Building State and Citizen: How Tax Collection in Congo Engenders Citizen Engagement with the State.”
Does tax collection catalyze citizen engagement with the state? I conduct the first field experiment to randomize tax collection: a door-to-door tax campaign in Kananga, D.R.Congo. I use the experiment to test the classic “tax-bargaining hypothesis,” which expects citizens to lobby the state for better governance in response to taxation. As predicted,the campaign increases costly participation by 5 percentage points (28%): citizens in taxed neighborhoods are more likely to attend townhall meetings hosted by the government; they are also more likely to submit suggestion cards evaluating its performance. I present a model in which citizens participate more because tax collection sends a signal of state capacity, raising the expected benefits to participation. Analysis of respondents’ stated beliefs about government capacity supports this mechanism. The paper thus provides field-experimental support for theories of tax bargaining as well as evidence of a new mechanism linking tax collection and political engagement.