The Genetic Legacy of State Centralization in the Kuba Kingdom of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

R&R, PNAS. with L. van Dorp, S. Lowes, N. Ansari-Pour, S. López, J. Mendoza-Revilla, J.A. Robinson, J. Henrich, M.G. Thomas, N. Nunn, and G. Hellenthal.

Few phenomena have had as profound or long-lasting consequences in human history as the emergence of large-scale centralized states in the place of smaller-scale and more-local societies. This study examines a fundamental, and yet, unexplored consequence of state formation: its genetic legacy. We study the genetic impact of state centralization during the formation of the eminent pre-colonial Kuba Kingdom…

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The Taxman Cometh: A Virtuous Cycle of Compliance and State Legitimacy in the D.R. Congo

Jonathan L. Weigel, 2018. Working Paper.

How do states in a low-tax, low-capacity equilibrium spur citizens to start paying taxes? Public-finance models hinge on citizen perceptions of enforcement, while political scientists emphasize the legitimacy of the state in generating voluntary compliance. This paper examines the determinants of payment in the first-ever citizen property tax campaign in a large Congolese city that raised average compliance from 0% to 10%…

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Building State and Citizen: How Tax Collection in Congo Engenders Citizen Engagement with the State

Jonathan L. Weigel. 2017. (Job Market PaperAppendix. Related links: World BankCyrus Samii.

Abstract: Does tax collection catalyze citizen engagement with the state? I conduct the first field experiment to randomize tax collection: a door-to-door tax campaign in Kananga, D.R. Congo. I use the experiment to test the classic “tax-bargaining hypothesis,” which expects citizens to lobby the state for better governance in response to taxation...

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Citizen Participation in Corruption: Evidence from Roadway Tolls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Otis Reid and Jonathan L. Weigel. 2017. (Working Paper)

Why is corruption so resilient? While many recent papers examine interventions seeking to discipline bureaucrats, less is known about the citizen side of corruption. This randomized controlled trial is designed to explore three components of citizen supply of bribes in the context of roadway tolls in Kananga, D.R. Congo: individual financial cost, perceived social cost, and social norms...

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The Evolution of Culture and Institutions: Evidence from the Kuba Kingdom

Sara Lowes, Nathan Nunn, James A. Robinson, and Jonathan Weigel. 7/2017. Econometrica, 85, 4, Pp. 1065-1091. (Paper). Appendix. Coverage by Cato Institute.

We use variation in historical state centralization to examine the impact of institutions on cultural norms. The Kuba Kingdom, established in Central Africa in the early 17th century by King Shyaam, had more developed state institutions than the other independent villages and chieftaincies in the region...

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