On the Social Determinants of Tax Systems in Latin American Countries, 1990-2017: a Time-Series Analysis of Competing Theoretical Explanations

Germano Ribeiro, University of California, San Diego

Fiscal sociological scholarship identifies a number of possible causal factors for the shape of tax systems, such as previous policy choices, influence of public opinion and ideology of the dominant parties. However, most of the literature on the field is informed by the cases of Western welfare states. Latin American contributions have been few and sparse thus far, mostly built on historical explanations that emphasize either the role of economic elites or of institutional legacies as possible explanatory variables. My goal in this paper is to quantitatively assess possible explanations for the existing disparity in terms of levels of tax revenue within Latin America since the democratic transition (1990-2017). I consider four of the main hypotheses derived from the political sociology literature, namely the institutional, the cultural, the ideological, and the elite power hypotheses. Regression analyses of time-series cross-section data suggest that bureaucratic capacity, political ideology and elite power influenced levels of tax revenue in Latin America in the analyzed period, whereas political culture was not significant.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 11. State Capacity, Democracy and Revenue