Long-term Drivers of Taxation in Francophone West Africa 1893–2010

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Which factors have driven fiscal revenue in Sub-Saharan Africa in the long run? We address this question by studying quantitatively the long-term relationship between fiscal outcomes, economic expansion and external dependency in four francophone West African countries – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Senegal – between 1893 and 2010. Using panel co-integration modelling we find a long-term relationship between, on the one hand, tax revenue and local economic development, proxied by international trade, and, on the other hand, tax revenue and developments of the economy and taxation in the former colonizing power France. The results indicate that economic expansion has been a significant factor in driving the long-term development of tax revenue in West Africa, just as it was in historical Europe, but also point to the historical vulnerability and external dependency of the fiscal systems of the four West African countries. We suggest that the wider implication of these results is that they point to the importance of deepening our understanding of how domestic contexts interact with external economic and institutional external forces to shape African fiscal systems, in contrast to factors such as inter-state warfare that are ubiquitous in narratives of historical European taxation and state development.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-313
JournalWorld Development
Issue numberFebruary
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 1
Publication categoryResearch