Skip to Main Navigation

5th World Bank/IFS/ODI Tax Conference: The Political Economy of Public Finances

September 21-22, 2023
Online and in London
2023 Tax Conference on The Political Economy of Public Finances

World Bank

The conference this year took place in person in London, with streaming for non-presenting attendees. 

About the conference

How should tax systems be designed and how should expenditures be targeted to maximize welfare? Economics provides concepts and tools to analyze these questions, but in the real world, the design of tax and expenditure policies fundamentally depends on the structure of political institutions. Political economy considerations are particularly important in contexts where the social contract between a government and its citizens may be weakened by elite capture, conflict or limited institutional capacity.

This conference brought together leading researchers and policymakers to discuss recent research on the political economy of public finances with relevance for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including:

  • The impact of political institutions, norms and preferences on taxes and expenditure
  • The role of civil servants and of management practices in public-sector institutions 
  • Subnational public finance and inter-government fiscal transfers
  • Measurement of corruption and favoritism and novel monitoring interventions    

The keynote address was delivered by Rohini Pande, Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics and Director of the Economic Growth Center, Yale University. The conference featured research presentations and academic discussions, as well as contributions from policymakers.

Conference Agenda

All times are in BST 

Click here for all bios

September 21, Day 1


Registration and Coffee & Refreshments


Opening RemarksAdnan Khan (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) | watch video


Session 1: Redistribution

Chair: Anne Brockmeyer (Institute for Fiscal Studies and World Bank)

Paper 1: “Preferences for Redistribution, Regional Identities, and Decentralized Taxation” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter:  Dirk Foremny (University of Barcelona and Institut d’Economia de Barcelona) 

- Discussant: Sandra Sequeira (London School of Economics and Political Science) | presentation

Paper 2: “Protest Matters: The Effects of Protests on Economic Redistribution” | paper | presentation

- Presenter: Belinda Archibong (Barnard College, Columbia University)

- Discussant: Jeremy Bowles (University College London) | presentation


Coffee Break



Chair:  Imran Rasul (University College London and Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Keynote:  Rohini Pande (Yale University) 

“Markets, Taxes, Inequality and Environmental Regulation: Experimental Evidence from LMICs” | watch video


Lunch Break


Session 2: State Capacity

Chair:  Yani Tyskerud (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Paper 1: “Revenue Slumps and Fiscal Capacity: Evidence from Brazil” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Claudio Ferraz (University of British Columbia)

- Discussant: Francois Gerard (Queen Mary, University of London) | presentation

Paper 2: “Updating the State: Information Acquisition Costs and Public Benefit Delivery​” | watch video

- Presenter: Yusuf Neggers​ (University of Michigan) 

- Discussant: Lydia Assouad (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper 3: “Unforeseen Events or Unscrupulous Officials? Electoral Accountability and Law Abuse in Public Procurement" | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Mustafa Kaba (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

- Discussant: Victor Pouliquen (University of Essex) | presentation


Coffee Break 


Policy Session: The Politics of Carbon Pricing | watch video

Chair:  Chiara Bronchi (World Bank)

- Ismail Momoniat (Acting Director-General, National Treasury, South Africa) - virtual  | presentation

- Carlos Muñoz Piña (former Director General for Revenue Policy, Ministry of Finance, Mexico; current Lecturer, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México) | paper

- Maciej Grabowski (former Minister of Environment, Republic of Poland; current President, Centre for Strategic Mind-set) | presentation

This session will feature presentations from policymakers and practitioners on introducing various forms of carbon pricing, as well as lessons learned from experiences in developing political support for and addressing opposition to the implementation of carbon pricing instruments from various stakeholders (different parts of the private sector as well as citizens), and how this influences tax levels and impacts.


Coffee Break 


Session 3: Subnational Fiscal Policy and Decentralization

Chair:  Twivwe Siwale (International Growth Centre)

Paper 1: “Shine a (Night)light: Decentralisation and Economic Development in Burkina Faso” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Rose Camille Vincent (ETH Zürich)

- Discussant: Julien Labonne (University of Oxford)

Paper 2: “Resource Windfalls, Public Expenditure and Labour Markets: Evidence from Municipalities in Peru​” | paper | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Antonella Bancalari​ (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

- Discussant: Christiane Szerman (University College London) | presentation


Eggtimer 1: Preferences, Politics, Policy & Policymakers                

Chair: David Phillips (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Paper 1: “Citizens Preferences for Direct vs Indirect Taxation: Balancing vertical vs horizontal equity”

- Presenter: Mahvish Shaukat (World Bank)

 ​Paper 2: “Reducing the Political Cost of Reforms. Does the Pace and Depth Matter?” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Andrea Lopez-Luzuriaga (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia​)

Paper 3: “The Human Factor in Tax Compliance: Taxpayers’ Experiences of Interaction with Tax Officials​” 

- Presenter: Giulia Mascagni (Institute of Development Studies and International Centre for Tax and Development)

Paper 4: “Fighting Climate Change: International Attitudes Toward Climate Policies” | paper | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Bluebery Planterose (Paris School of Economics and École Normale Supérieure)​

September 22, Day 2


Coffee & Refreshments


Session 4: Fiscal Rules and Government Debt

Chair: Claudia Vargas Pastor (World Bank)

Paper 1: “Public Debt Limits and Expansionary Fiscal Austerity: Reallocating Credit Amid Fiscal Consolidation​” | paper | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Claudia Ruiz Ortega​ (World Bank)

- Discussant: Christopher Hoy (World Bank) | presentation

Paper 2: “Political Economy of Government Borrowing and Financial Crowding Out: Evidence from India” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Kavya Ravindranath (George Washington University)                         

- Discussant: Clara Martinez-Toledano (Imperial College Business School) | presentation

Paper 3: “Fiscal Rules and Private Investment: Theory with Evidence from the Indian States​​” | paper | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Neelanjan Datta (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur)

- Discussant: Marcel Olbert (London Business School) | presentation


Coffee Break


Eggtimer 2:  The Social Contract     

Chair:  Thiago Scot (World Bank)

Paper 1: “Citizens’ Support for Taxation in Africa: The Role of the Social Contract”

- Presenter: Oyebola Okunogbe (World Bank)

 ​Paper 2: “Limits to State Capacity Development: Evidence from Tax Revolts under the French Ancien Régime” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Eva Davoine (University of California, Berkeley​)

Paper 3: “Leveraging Religious Leaders to Increase Voluntary Tax Compliance: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania​” 

- Presenter: Jasmin Vietz (University of Hohenheim​​)

Paper 4: “The Fiscal Contract Up Close: Evidence from Mexico City” 

- Presenter: Anne Brockmeyer (Institute for Fiscal Studies and World Bank)​




Eggtimer 3: Elites, Corruption and Government Effectiveness     

Chair:  Pierre Bachas (ESSEC-Business School and World Bank)

Paper 1: “State Paralysis: The Effect of Compliance Uncertainty on Government Effectiveness"

- Presenter: Joana Naritomi (London School of Economics)

 ​Paper 2: “Elites Capture of Local Institutions and Local Governance: Evidence from the Audits of Fiscal Transfers in Benin​” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Lazare Kovo (Emory University​​)

Paper 3: “Information About Corruption and Politicians' Proposals​” | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Guillermo Lezama (University of Pittsburgh​​)  


Coffee Break


Session 5: Policy Reform

Chair: Verena Fritz (World Bank)

Paper 1: “The Politics of Policy Reform: Experimental Evidence from Liberia​” | paper | presentation | watch video

- Presenter: Wayne Sandholtz​ (Nova School of Business and Economics)

- Discussant: Mattie Toma (University of Warwick) | presentation

Paper 2: “Policy Misperceptions, Information, and the Demand for Redistributive Tax Reform: Experimental Evidence from Latin America" | paper | presentation

- Presenter: Thomas Sattler (University of Geneva)                             

- Discussant: Gabriel Ulyssea (University College London) | presentation

Paper 3: “Does a Progressive Tax Reform Affect Tax Compliance?​​” 

- Presenter: Guillermo Cruces (CEDLAS-Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina)

- Policy Perspective: Julian Amendolaggine (Treasury and Finance, Municipality of Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires)


​​Closing RemarksAart Kraay (World Bank) - virtual