Representation through Taxation: Revenue, Politics, and Development in Postcommunist States (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics)

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9780521887335: Representation through Taxation: Revenue, Politics, and Development in Postcommunist States (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics)

Social scientists teach that politicians favor groups that are organized over those that are not. Representation Through Taxation challenges this conventional wisdom. Emphasizing that there are limits to what organized interests can credibly promise in return for favorable treatment, Gehlbach shows that politicians may instead give preference to groups - organized or not - that by their nature happen to take actions that are politically valuable. Gehlbach develops this argument in the context of the postcommunist experience, focusing on the incentive of politicians to promote sectors that are naturally more tax compliant, regardless of their organization. In the former Soviet Union, tax systems were structured around familiar revenue sources, magnifying this incentive and helping to prejudice policy against new private enterprise. In Eastern Europe, in contrast, tax systems were created to cast the revenue net more widely, encouraging politicians to provide the collective goods necessary for new firms to flourish.

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Book Description:

Why do politicians favor some groups over others? Gehlbach uses the postcommunist experience to challenge the traditional emphasis on collective action, focusing instead on the incentive of politicians to promote sectors that are relatively easy to tax, regardless of their organization.

About the Author:

Scott Gehlbach is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a research associate of the Centre for Economic and Financial Research in Moscow, where he spent the 2007-2008 academic year as a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellow, and is a recent recipient of a Social Science Research Council Eurasia Program Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including the American Journal of Political Science, the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Economics and Politics, and Rationality and Society. His dissertation on the political economy of taxation in postcommunist states won the Mancur Olson Award for the best dissertation in the field of political economy. Professor Gehlbach received his Ph.D. in political science and economics from the University of California-Berkeley.

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