Date of Award

5-15-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. James R. Alm - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Sally Wallace

Third Advisor

Dr. Jorge L. Martinez-Vazquez

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Yuriy Kitsul

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Robert J. Eger, III

Abstract

The dissertation aims at broadening our understanding of tax evasion and government spending in developing countries. It comprises three essays. The first essay deals with estimation of tax evasion in a cross-section of developing countries by estimating their underground economies using the currency demand method. By including enforcement parameters of the tax authorities as another factor of tax evasion in the currency demand equation, it presents theory-consistent tax evasion measurement. Our estimation strategy includes the use of the Arellano-Bond dynamic panel data method that is suitable for correcting the endogeneity problem in the currency demand estimation. The study finds substantial underground economy in developing countries, ranging from 2-67 percent of GDP. The second essay is concerned with time series measurement of the underground economy in South Africa using the currency demand method. Unlike other similar studies on South Africa, it gives sufficient attention to the unit root problem that is common in time series analysis of the currency demand method. Using the Error Correction Method (ECM), it investigates the relationship between the tax rate and the currency demand, and presents yearly estimates of the underground economy for the period 1965-2002. The third essay deals with the behavior of government spending in South Africa for the period 1960-2002. Since South Africa went through various political and macroeconomic shocks during this period, we augment measures of these shocks to the standard median voter model to assess the determinants of government spending in South Africa. Using the Error Correction Method (ECM), we investigate the long-run and short-run behavior of government spending. We find that, in addition to the tax share and the income of the median voter, macroeconomic and political shocks were also significant factors in determining government spending in South Africa. This study broadens our understanding of the behavior of government spending in the presence of political and macroeconomic shocks that are common in small open developing economies.

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Economics Commons

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