Building state and citizen: How tax collection in Congo engenders citizen engagement with the state

I examine a field experiment randomizing door-to-door tax collection across 431 neighborhoods of a Congolese city. I test the hypothesis that citizens will demand more inclusive governance when they are taxed. As predicted, the campaign increased political participation by 5 percentage points (28%): citizens in taxed neighborhoods were more likely to attend townhall meetings hosted by the government or to submit evaluations of its performance. I argue that citizens participate more because tax collection sends a signal of state ca- pacity, raising the expected benefits of participation. Analysis of respondents’ beliefs about government capacity supports this mechanism.

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