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Decentralization and corruption in historical perspective: evidence from tax collection in British colonial Africa

Gardner, Leigh (2010) Decentralization and corruption in historical perspective: evidence from tax collection in British colonial Africa. Economic History of Developing Regions, 25 (2). pp. 213-236. ISSN 2078-0389

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Abstract

Fiscal decentralization has been a major theme in development policy in Sub-Saharan Africa since the 1980s. However, the hopes that decentralization will lead to greater accountability have often been disappointed. This paper uses evidence on the devolution of tax collection in British colonial Africa to argue that corruption in local governance in Africa has a long history. The devolution of authority over tax assessments to district officers and their delegates in the early colonial period resulted in widespread corruption. These problems were exacerbated when authority was devolved further to the local level in the 1940s, a pivotal decade in the development of the local authorities inherited by post-independence governments. This evidence indicates that the tendency for decentralization to lead to corruption at the local level is not limited to recent moves toward decentralization.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/REHD
Additional Information: © 2010 Economic History Society of Southern Africa
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Journal of Economic Literature Classification System: N - Economic History > N2 - Financial Markets and Institutions > N27 - Africa; Oceania
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N47 - Africa; Oceania
Sets: Departments > Economic History
Collections > Economists Online
Rights: http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/usingTheLibrary/academicSupport/OA/depositYourResearch.aspx
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2011 09:23
URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/36855/

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