Discussion paper

DP17198 Tax Aversion and the Social Contract in Africa

Despite the low levels of taxation and public good provision in Africa, I provide
evidence that a large proportion of Africans prefer lower taxation and fewer public goods. This
cannot be explained by standard arguments about problems of accountability, governance or state
capacity. Instead I argue that it reflects deeply seated ideas about the nature of the state and its
potential threats to the autonomy of society. I show the historic social contracts in Africa rarely
featured taxation and kept the state to limited jurisdictions. These social contracts have in many
ways reproduced themselves and influence the way Africa is governed today.


Robinson, J (2022), ‘DP17198 Tax Aversion and the Social Contract in Africa‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 17198. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp17198