Taxation and redistribution in autocratic and democratic regimes over the long-run of history
Title: Taxation and redistribution in autocratic and democratic regimes over the long-run of history
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2017/11
The introduction of the personal income tax has often coincided with phases of democratization in history. A common explanation is that the demands of the newly enfranchised poor contribute to the rise of progressive taxes. Yet, although the world has, on average, become more democratic since the first permanent introduction of the income tax in Great Britain in 1842, inequality is again on the rise. To what extent do democratic societies really adopt more redistributive policies than their autocratic counterparts? In this paper, we shed light on the link between regime type and redistribution based on a new historical and global dataset of first permanent tax legislations. We compare the introduction of two direct progressive taxes, namely the inheritance tax and the personal income tax, with the introduction of two indirect taxes, the general sales and the value added tax. Whereas regime type has no influence on tax introduction in general, democracies are more likely to adopt progressive taxation.
Subject: Progressive taxation; Inequality; Redistribution; Democracy
Type of Access: openAccess