Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Charles Hankla

Second Advisor

Dr. Carrie Manning

Third Advisor

Dr. Ryan Carlin

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Amy Steigerwalt


When it comes to improving tax revenues in developing countries, we do not have a clear understanding of whether it is more important to have democracy or state effectiveness. Two theories have prevailed in the literature; one is to focus on building strong states that can have financial autonomy, the other is to promote democracy with the assumption that democracy brings about economic growth. Yet, for over four decades, developing countries’ tax to GDP ratio is still desperately low. On average, developing countries ‘tax to the GDP ratio is less that half that of the OCDE countries. This article contends that greater taxation outcomes result from the synergistic combination between democracy and state effectiveness. Empirical evidence from a time-series-cross-sectional dataset covering up to 120 countries during the 2003-2012 time period supports the conclusion that the two attributes working together increase tax revenue by 16% because they force political leaders to focus on citizens by improving their political participation (democracy) and by meeting voters’ basic needs (performance).