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  • 1.
    Besley, Tim
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Why Do Developing Countries Tax So Little?2014In: Journal of Economic Perspectives, ISSN 0895-3309, E-ISSN 1944-7965, Vol. 28, no 4, p. 99-120Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 2.
    Besley, Timothy J.
    et al.
    London School of Economics and Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
    Burchardi, Konrad B.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Ghatak, Maitreesh
    London School of Economics.
    Incentives and the De Soto Effect2012In: Quarterly Journal of Economics, ISSN 0033-5533, E-ISSN 1531-4650, Vol. 127, no 1, p. 237-282Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper explores the consequences of improving property rights to facilitate the use of fixed assets as collateral, popularly attributed to the influential policy advocate Hernando de Soto. We use an equilibrium model of a credit market with moral hazardto characterize the theoretical effects and also develop a quantitative analysis using data from Sri Lanka. We show that the effects are likely to be nonlinear and heterogeneous by wealth group. They also depend on the extent of competition between lenders. There can be significant increases in profits and reductions in interest rates when credit markets are competitive. However, since these are due to reductions in moral hazard, that is, increased effort, the welfare gains tend to be modest when cost of effort is taken into account. Allowing for an extensive margin where borrowers gain access to the credit market can make these effects larger depending on the underlying wealth distribution.

  • 3.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Economic Approaches to Political Institutions2008In: The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics / [ed] Steven N. Durlauf, Lawrence E. Blume, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, 2. edChapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Political institutions affect the rules of the game in which politics is played. Economists now have theoretical approaches to explain the impact of institutions on policy, and empirical evidence to support the relevance of the theory. This article sketches a framework to inform discussions about how political institutions shape policy outcomes. It does so using four examples: majoritarian versus proportional elections; parliamentary versus presidential government; whether to impose term-limits on office holders; and the choice between direct and representative democracy. Each example illustrates how theory and data can be brought together to investigate a specific issue.

  • 4.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics and CIFAR.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    FRAGILE STATES AND DEVELOPMENT POLICY2011In: Journal of the European Economic Association, ISSN 1542-4766, E-ISSN 1542-4774, Vol. 9, no 3, p. 371-398Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    It is widely recognized that fragile states are key symptoms of under-development in many parts of the world. Such states are incapable of delivering basic services to their citizens and political violence is commonplace. As of yet, mainstream development economics has not dealt in any systematic way with such concerns and the implications for development assistance. This paper puts forward a framework for analyzing fragile states and applies it to a variety development policies in different types of states.

  • 5.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics and Political Science.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Pillars of prosperity: the political economics of development clusters2011Book (Refereed)
  • 6.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics, CIFAR.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Repression or Civil War?2009In: The American Economic Review, ISSN 0002-8282, E-ISSN 1944-7981, Vol. 99, no 2, p. 292-297Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Perhaps the crowning achievement of mature democracies is the peaceful acceptance of the ballot box as the primary instrument for deciding who should hold power in society. We do not have to go far back in the history of most democratic states, however, to find a distinct role for political violence. Moreover, many inhabitants of the globe still remain at risk of falling prey to widespread violence in the struggle for political office. Forms of political violence differ a great deal. We focus on two important manifestations: repression and civil war distinguished by whether violence is one-sided or two-sided. We present a unified approach to studying these forms of political violence with common roots in poverty, natural resource rents, and weak political institutions. First, we lay out  rudimentary model to analyze whether violence will occur and, if so, manifest itself as repression or civil war. Three regimes — peace, repression and civil war — emerge as alternative equilibrium outcomes in the interaction between an incumbent government and an opposition group. Moreover, the theory suggests a natural ordering of these regimes. We then construct empirical measures of repression and civil war, which we map into ordered variables as suggested by the theory. We investigate how the regime depends on economic and political variables, using an ordered logit model defined over the three regimes. Our estimation results indicate a strong correlation between low incomes, weak political institutions and both forms of political violence.

  • 7.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    State Capacity, Conflict, and Development2010In: Econometrica, ISSN 0012-9682, E-ISSN 1468-0262, Vol. 78, no 1, p. 1-34Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The absence of state capacities to raise revenue and to support markets is a key factor in explaining the persistence of weak states. This paper reports on an ongoing project to investigate the incentive to invest in such capacities. The paper sets out a simple analytical structure in which state capacities are modeled as forward looking investments by government. The approach highlights some determinants of state building including the risk of external or internal conflict, the degree of political instability, and dependence on natural resources. Throughout, we link these state capacity investments to patterns of development and growth.

  • 8. Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies. Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Canada.
    Taxation and Development2013In: Handbook of public economics / [ed] Alan J. Auerbach, Raj Chetty, Martin Feldstein, Emmanuel Saez, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2013, p. 51-110Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The central question in taxation and development is: “how does a government go from raising around 10% of GDP in taxes to raising around 40%?” This paper looks at the economic and political forces that shape the way that fiscal capacity is created and sustained. As well as reviewing the literature and evidence, it builds an overarching framework to help structure thinking on the topic.

  • 9.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics, United Kingdom; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Canada.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies. Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Canada.
    The Causes and Consequences of Development Clusters: State Capacity, Peace and Income2014In: Annual Review of Economics, ISSN 1941-1383, E-ISSN 1941-1391, Vol. 6, p. 927-949Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Three important aspects of development-per capita income, state capabilities, and (the absence of) political violence-are correlated with each other at the country level. This article discusses the causes of such development clusters and highlights two explanations: common economic, political, and social drivers and complementarities (two-way positive feedbacks). It also draws out preliminary policy implications of these patterns of development and proposes topics for further research.

  • 10.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    The Logic of Political Violence2011In: Quarterly Journal of Economics, ISSN 0033-5533, E-ISSN 1531-4650, Vol. 126, no 3, p. 1411-1445Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article offers a unified approach for studying political violence whether it emerges as repression or civil war. We formulate a model where an incumbent or opposition can use violence to maintain or acquire power to study which political and economic factors drive one-sided or two-sided violence (repression or civil war). The model predicts a hierarchy of violence states from peace via repression to civil war; and suggests a natural empirical approach. Exploiting only within-country variation in the data, we show that violence is associated with shocks that can affect wages and aid. As in the theory, these effects are only present where political institutions are noncohesive.

  • 11.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Wars and State Capacity2008In: Journal of the European Economic Association, ISSN 1542-4766, E-ISSN 1542-4774, Vol. 6, no 2-3, p. 522-530Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The article builds a simple model to investigate how different types of armed conflict shape fiscal capacity: the state's ability to raise revenue from taxes. It starts from the simple observation that external war tends to generate common interests across groups in society, whereas internal, civil war entails deep conflicting interests across groups. Our model predicts that-compared to a society without conflict-civil wars lead to smaller investments in fiscal capacity, whereas prospects of external war generally lead to larger investments. Correlations in international data on conflicts and taxation are, by and large, consistent with these predictions.

  • 12.
    Besley, Timothy
    et al.
    London School of Economics.
    Persson, Torsten
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Sturm, Daniel M.
    London School of Economics.
    Political Competition, Policy and Growth: Theory and Evidence from the US2010In: The Review of Economic Studies, ISSN 0034-6527, E-ISSN 1467-937X, Vol. 77, no 4, p. 1329-1352Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper develops a simple model to analyse how a lack of political competition may lead to policies that hinder economic growth. We test the predictions of the model on panel data for the US states. In these data, we find robust evidence that lack of political competition in a state is associated with anti-growth policies: higher taxes, lower capital spending, and a reduced likelihood of using right-to-work laws. We also document a strong link between low political competition and low income growth.

  • 13.
    Persson, Torsten
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    Besley, Timothy
    London School of Economics.
    The origins of state capacity: Property rights, taxation and policy2009In: The American Economic Review, ISSN 0002-8282, E-ISSN 1944-7981, Vol. 99, no 4, p. 1218-1244Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Economists generally assume that the state has sufficient institutional capacity to support markets and levy taxes. This paper develops a framework where "policy choices" in market regulation and taxation are constrained by past investments in legal and fiscal capacity. It studies the economic and political determinants of such investments, demonstrating that legal and fiscal capacity are typically complements. The results show that, among other things, common interest public goods, such as fighting external wars, as well as political stability and inclusive political institutions, are conducive to building state capacity. Some correlations in cross-country data are consistent with the theory.

1 - 13 of 13
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