Building the Modern State in Developing Countries: Perceptions of Public Safety and (Un)willingness to Pay Taxes in Mexico

Mariano Sánchez-Talanquer, Profesor Investigador Titular de la División de Estudios Políticos, y Gustavo Flores-Macías escribieron Building the Modern State in Developing Countries: Perceptions of Public Safety and (Un)willingness to Pay Taxes in Mexico, en la revista Politics & Society.

 

Abstract:

What is the relationship between taxation and public safety? Contrary to studies suggesting that personal victimization and heightened perceptions of insecurity increase pro-social attitudes and support for state intervention in the form of greater taxation, this article argues that such concerns decrease willingness to pay taxes to address public safety. It estimates what citizens are willing to pay to reduce crime, using an original representative survey conducted in Mexico and relying on the contingent valuation method to assess the value of nonmarket goods. Attitudes toward taxation are found to respond to subjective, sociotropic assessments of public safety rather than to actual risk or occurrences of individual victimization. These findings counter the conventional wisdom that demand for personal security enables greater extraction, a central proposition in classic accounts of state building. Showing that willingness to accept heavier taxation may be weakest among those who perceive the gravest need for security, the study adds precision to theories of fiscal exchange.

 

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