Building State and Citizen: How Tax Collection in Congo Engenders Citizen Engagement with the State


Jonathan Weigel (London School of Economics)

May 16, 2019, 11:00–12:30


Room MF 323

Development, Labor and Public Policy Seminar


I examine a field experiment randomizing door-to-door tax collection across 431 neighborhoods of a Congolese city. I test the hypothesis that citizens will demand more inclusive governance when they are taxed. As predicted, the campaign increased political participation by 5 percentage points (28%):citizens in taxed neighborhoods were more likely to attend townhall meetings hosted by the government or to submit evaluations of its performance. I argue that citizens participate more because tax collection sends a signal of state capacity, raising the expected benefits of participation. Analysis of respondents’ beliefs about government capacity supports this mechanism.