Sunday, March 06, 2005

A New Ithaka: Changing the destination of my research

After my encounter with Przeworski, it was clear to me that I lacked from a good intuition in my early research proposal. The big question was not about the way tax systems were developed in Latin America -economist did a good econometric job locating explanatory variables- but about those cases that are deviant from the expectations. Brazil tax more than any model would predict, and Bolivia tax a ridiculous segment of its economy, contrary to the econometric calculus.

Why does the rich segment accept to finance the state in some countries, but not in others?

In extremely unequal countries, their massive appropiation of the wealth resources makes them afraid from the dispossessed masses throughout the democratic mechanisms. The median voter is a poor voter, but democracies did very little to reduce inequality.

Neither development nor democracy has served to reduce inequality much. Crucially, access to land and to education was very unequal in most Latin American countries in the late 19th century, when the economic returns to these resources were very high. Subsequently, authoritarian politics tended to lock in inequalities.

The Economist (Sunday, 6th march 05): "A Stubborn Curse" (register)

So a big shift in the research took place that january. From the neutral, empirical research of variables that accounted for variations in the taxes collected by developing countries, to a more analytical focus in the agents and strategies that are behind those apparently natural changes.


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