Event, Monday, Oct 27. Lebas on Nigeria

Adrienne Lebas, American University

The Origins of Voluntary Compliance: Attitudes toward Taxation in Urban Nigeria.”

12 Noon, PAC 004

Abstract: How do states convince citizens to pay tax? Rather than focusing on enforcement, most accounts emphasize voluntary or “quasi-voluntary” compliance as an essential element in successful tax regimes. There remains, however, limited understanding of how voluntary tax compliance and the societal norms supporting it emerge.

This is an important issue in sub-Saharan Africa, where low reliance on taxation is presumed to contribute to corruption and a lack of government accountability. This paper uses novel public opinion data from urban Nigeria to examine why individuals adopt pro-compliance norms. We find that citizens respond to state delivery of services, but tax attitudes are also shaped by their access to services or “club goods” provided by non-state actors.

Adrienne LeBas (PhD, Columbia University) joined the Department of Government in the fall of 2009. Prior to joining AU, LeBas was a Prize Research Fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and Assistant Professor of Political Science and African Studies at Michigan State University. Her research interests include social movements, democratization, and political violence. She is the author of From Protest to Parties: Party-Building and Democratization in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011), which was named Best Book by the African Politics Conference Group. Her research on party organization and violence has appeared in Comparative Politics, Studies in Comparative International Development, and elsewhere. LeBas also worked as a consultant for Human Rights Watch in Zimbabwe, where she lived from 2002 to 2003. Her most recent work looks at attitudes toward taxation in urban Nigeria.

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