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Research Agenda

Phase 2: 2005-10
Programme 1:
Public Action & Private Investment
Programme 2:
Collective Action Around Service Delivery
Programme 3:
State Capacity

Phase 1: 2000-05

Programme 1:
Financing the State

Programme 2:
Mobilising Public Action

Programme 3:
Co-Producing Public Services

Phase 1
Programme 1: Financing the State

This programme looks at the connection between political development and public finances; in short, the links between the way states raise money and the way they use it.

We begin with the hypothesis that the behaviour of states is closely linked to citizen-state interactions over finance, and seek to explore

  1. the causal relationships that are implied and
  2. the implications for development policy.

We want to know to what extent changes in the ways in which states obtain their revenue can contribute to the effectiveness of public action in poverty reduction? How can the legitimacy of taxation be enhanced and the tax base broadened in ways consistent with equity and efficiency of collection? How can efforts to promote 'transparency' in public expenditure become institutionalised and be designed to serve the poor?

We wish to trace the causal links between the resources of the state and important social, economic and political characteristics in poor countries. The resources of the state are an interesting window to the state precisely because the causal relationships between resources and other variables are so complex. Revenues and expenditures are results, causes, and even indicators of political development and governance. We believe that it is crucial to add resource considerations to the way we understand the state. Specifically, we are interested in the extent to which certain patterns of gathering and using financial resources help us to understand state responsiveness to the needs of poor people. The purpose of this programme is to undertake research on these issues and, perhaps more important in the long term, to act as a clearing-house and stimulus for research undertaken elsewhere.

The key questions guiding this programme are:

  1. To what extent and in which ways are systems of public finance causes, results, or indicators of the poor performance and lack of legitimacy of Southern States?
  2. What is the scope for policy interventions to generate more synergy between the institutions of public finance and effective, legitimate public authority?

Programme 1 projects include 'Enhancing Effectiveness and Legitimacy in Southern Africa', conducted by the Centre for Policy Studies, South Africa.

This research examines the nature of resourcing the state in the context of the social, political and economic dynamics in South Africa and other Southern African countries. The project will carry out an interview-based study of attempts to enhance revenue-raising capacity. It will consider the assumptions behind government approaches, the way these were implemented, the results achieved and the obstacles confronted. There will also be focus groups to investigate public perceptions of state revenue collection and its legitimacy, and levels of compliance.

A Resource on Tax Policy in Latin America
In connection with research under this programme, we are pleased to make available a resource on tax policy in Latin America. More




Available to view - details of projects under this Programme:

P1.1 - Taxation and Legitimacy in Southern Africa

P1.2 - Resourcing for Redistribution, India
P1.3 - Revenue and the Polity

P1.4 - Decentralisation and the Poor

P1.5 - Politics of Poverty in Rentier States

P1.7 - Revenue and Pro-Poor Expenditure





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