The income tax is a central pillar of the modern fiscal state because of its revenueraising capacity and administrative sophistication. Existing accounts point to interstate
war and class conflict as key drivers of modern fiscal breakthroughs, but we evaluate a
third explanation for the origins of fiscal capacity that highlights the importance of intraelite competition for political and economic power in times of rapid industrialization.
Modern forms of taxation generated a conflict between industry and agriculture over the distribution of the tax burden across sectors. The presence of electoral institutions that connected tax payments to voting rights created opportunities to overcome this sectoral divide and facilitated the formation of a political consensus for fiscal innovation. The political coalition supporting income tax adoption included higher-income industrial and agricultural elites who anticipated fiscal and electoral gains associated with the adoption
of the new tax. Drawing on parliamentary debates in Prussia and additional district level data, we document both the origin and electoral and economic consequences of the new income tax. We show that the adoption of a highly sophisticated income tax in 1891 shifted the tax burden from land to industry and diluted the political influence of the middle class. The findings clarify the coalitional dynamics leading to fiscal tax adoption
in nondemocratic contexts.
Voting for the lesser evil: evidence from a conjoint experiment. 2020. with Giancarlo Visconti. 2019. Political Science Research Methods 8(2), pp. 315-328.
In many elections around the world, voters choose between politicians who differ not only in personal
background and policy promises, but also in their history of dishonest electoral conduct. While recent
literature has begun to investigate the conditions under which voters punish electoral malfeasance, we
know relatively little about whether they penalize different forms of illicit activities carried out by politicians differently. In this paper, we present the results of a candidate choice experiment embedded in a
survey fielded prior to the 2016 Romanian local election. We asked voters to choose between two hypothetical candidates, randomly varying several attributes, including different illicit electoral activities. We
find that citizens tolerate some forms of political malfeasance less than others depending on how much that malfeasance infringes on voters’ autonomy. Informational campaigns carried out by prosecutorial agencies also affect how much voters punish different illicit exchanges.
Varieties of clientelism in Hungarian elections. 2019. Joint with Lauren Young.Comparative Politics 51(3), pp. 449-480.
In elections around the world, candidates seek to influence voters’ choices using a variety of intermediaries and by relying on either positive electoral inducements or coercive strategies. What explains candidates’ choices among different forms of clientelism? When do candidates incentivize voters using positive inducements and when do they choose coercive strategies? This article proposes a new typology of clientelism and tests two families of explanations for why candidates would choose to use state versus non-state brokers, and inducements versus coercion, as private incentives to voters. First, existing theory predicts that political conditions such as incumbency or co-partisanship with the national party should enable the use of public over private brokers and resources. In addition, we conjecture that clientelism carries programmatic signals, such that the choice between inducements and coercion depends on local political conditions. We test our predictions using a post-electoral survey fielded in 2014 in ninety rural Hungarian communities. We find little evidence that local political conditions are related to the choice between state versus non-state brokers, but significant support for the prediction that programmatic signals explain the choice between inducements and coercion.
The core voter’s curse: Clientelistic threats and promises in Hungarian elections. 2018. Joint with Lauren Young. Comparative Political Studies 51(11), pp. 1441-1471.
In elections around the world, voters are influenced not only by positive offers of gifts and favors but also by the threat of negative sanctions for their individual electoral choices. Preelectoral entitlements such as jobs, assets, and welfare create expectations of future access that brokers can
use as powerful negative inducements at the moment of the vote. We argue that in conditions where ballot secrecy makes it difficult to monitor vote choices, brokers are likely to target core supporters with both preelectoral entitlements and election-time threats. We refer to this counterintuitive logic as the “core voters’ curse.” We find evidence for this argument using an original household survey of 1,860 Hungarian citizens in 93 rural communities fielded shortly after the 2014 parliamentary election.
Economic Intimidation in contemporary elections: experimental evidence from Romania and Bulgaria. with Aurelian Muntean and Tsveta Petrova. 2018. Government and Opposition (53):3, pp. 486-517
This article examines electoral intimidation of voters at their workplace in contemporary new democracies. What is the relative importance of workplace intimidation in the broader portfolio of clientelistic strategies used by politicians at times of elections? What explains the subnational variation in the incidence of this electoral strategy? We answer these questions using empirical evidence from two East European countries – Romania and Bulgaria. We assess the prevalence of non-programmatic electoral mobilization in these countries by
using list experiments, a survey methodology that elicits unbiased and truthful responses to sensitive political questions. We find that in both countries, workplace intimidation is an important component in the repertoire of nonprogrammatic mobilization used at election times. Workplace intimidation is especially pervasive in localities dominated by a small number of large employers. The importance of economic intimidation in the portfolio of clientelistic strategies declines as the economic heterogeneity of the locality increases.
Inequality and Democratization: A critical assessment of recent contributions. 2017. Perspectives on Politics (15):2,155-160. Article | Abstract
Pressure, Favors and Vote-buying: Experimental Evidence from Romania and Bulgaria. with Aurelian Muntean and Tsveta Petrova. 2018. Europe- Asia Studies (69):6, pp. 940- 960.
This article examines the mix of non-programmatic strategies used by politicians to gain voter support in contemporary Eastern Europe. We use a mixed-method design that combines survey-based experiments and qualitative research in a paired comparison of localities in Romania and Bulgaria. Our article documents that the mix of clientelistic strategies differs across localities with different turnover rates. In both Romania and
Bulgaria, we find that the use of clientelistic strategies that oliticise state resources is higher in localities with long-term political incumbents.
A discussion of Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels: Democracy for Realists: Why elections do not produce responsive governments. 2017. Perspectives on Politics (15):1, pp. 159- 160. Article | Abstract
Buying, expropriating and stealing votes. 2016. Joint with Lauren Young. Annual Review of Political Science 19, pp. 267-288.
In elections around the world, large numbers of voters are influenced by promises or threats that are contingent on how they vote. Recently, the political science literature has made considerable progress in disaggregating clientelism along two dimensions: first, in recognizing the diversity of actors working as brokers, and second, in conceptualizing and disaggregating types of clientelism based on positive and negative inducements of different forms. In this review, we discuss recent findings explaining variation in the mix of clientelistic strategies across countries, regions, and individuals and identify a few areas for future progress, particularly in explaining variation in targeting
of inducements by politicians on different types of voters.
Reprinted in Mungiu, Pippidi, Alina and Heywood, Paul. Eds. 2020. A Research Agenda for the study of Corruption. Cheltanham: Edward Elgar, pp. 55- 74.
Redefining who’s in and out: Explaining Preferences for Redistribution in Bolivia. 2016. Joint withMatthew Carnes.Journal of Development Studies (52): 11 , pp. 1647- 1664.
How does welfare state expansion reconfigure political coalitions? This paper challenges traditional
accounts that pit social policy ‘insiders’, who univocally oppose policy expansion, against ‘outsiders’ who favour it. It argues that labour market vulnerability and partisan cues can play a critical role in shaping the preferences of both insiders and outsiders, and thus produce new pro-expansion coalitions. To test this claim, it employs historical analysis of key social insurance configurations in Bolivia over the last 30 years, as well as an original survey carried out in Bolivia following that nation’s 2007 extension of a noncontributory national minimum pension.
Winner of the 2014 Repal Prize
Winner of the 2016 Dudley Sears Prize.
The nondemocratic Origin of Income Taxation. 2016. Joint with Didac Queralt. Comparative Political Studies (48): 14 , pp. 1974 – 2009.
This article examines the adoption of income taxes in Western economies since the 19th century. We identify two empirical regularities that challenge predictions of existing models of taxation and redistribution: While countries
with low levels of electoral enfranchisement and high levels of landholding inequality adopt the income tax first, countries with more extensive electoral rules lag behind in adopting these new forms of taxation. We propose an explanation of income tax adoption that accounts for these empirical regularities. We discuss the most important economic consideration of politicians linked to owners of different factors, namely, the shift of the tax burden between sectors, and examine how preexisting electoral rules affect these political calculations. The article provides both a cross-national test of this argument and a microhistorical test that examines the economic and political determinants of support for the adoption of the income tax in 1842 in Britain.
In recent decades, developing and middle-income countries around the globe have adopted pathbreaking reforms to their social protection systems. Among these countries, Latin America has been a pioneer, expanding the state’s commitment on behalf of low-income citizens in key policy
areas. This paper undertakes two tasks. First, it documents the surprising extension of noncontributory social protection policies across many Latin American countries, highlighting how tax-financed programs have come to play a central role in a variety of settings. Second, it examines citizen-level preferences that support this trend, arguing that employment vulnerability and threats to income continuity play a decisive role in shaping demand for public, rather than private, social protection. Survey data on labor-market risks and social policy preferences from eighteen countries corroborates these claims. Our findings suggest that other countries undergoing labor-market strains may experience similar demands for a “return of the state” as a guarantor of social protection in the coming years.
Economic and political determinants of electoral intimidation. Joint with Boliang Zhu. 2015. Comparative Politics. 48:1, 1-24.
In recent years, the study of electoral irregularities has become a central and rapidly growing area of research in comparative politics. A first generation of studies have observed the regrettable persistence of electoral irregularities in a number of countries that have experienced recent democratic transitions and examined the macro-level factors that account for the persistence of electoral authoritarianism in recently democratized countries. Other studies have taken a more micro-level approach to the study of electoral fraud and attempted to understand within-country variation in the strategies by which politicians and agents acting on their behalf seek to influence the electoral choices of voters.
Labor shortages, rural inequality and democratic reforms. Joint with Martin Ardanaz. 2014. Comparative Political Studies. 47:12, 1637-1669.
A large body of scholarship has asserted that inequalities in the distribution of fixed assets act as a barrier to democratic transitions. This article proposes a theoretical and empirical amendment of this finding, by arguing that employment conditions in the countryside, rather than inequalities in the distribution of fixed assets affected electoral outcomes in societies characterized by high levels of rural inequality. Using empirical evidence from the Prussian districts of Imperial Germany during the period between 1871 and 1912, we show that relative labor market shortages of agricultural workers affected electoral outcomes under conditions of an imperfect protection of electoral secrecy. Shortages of agricultural workers reduced the electoral strength of conservative politicians and increased the willingness
of rural voters to “take electoral risks” and vote for the opposition Social Democratic Party. Labor shortages also affect preferences of individual legislators over the reform of electoral institutions. We find that politicians in districts experiencing high levels of labor shortage, and thus, higher costs of electoral intimidation are more willing to support changes in electoral rules that increase the protection of electoral secrecy. In theoretical terms, our findings contribute to the literature linking rural inequality and democratization, by demonstrating the importance of labor scarcity as a source of political cleavages over electoral reforms.
Winner of the best article award of the Editorial Board of Comparative Political Studies for best paper published in 2014.
The adoption of proportional representation. Joint with Lucas Leemann. 2014. The Journal of Politics. 72:2, 461- 478.
The debate between economic and political explanations of the adoption of proportional representation (PR) has yielded mixed results. We reexamine this debate and argue that one has to take the different levels on which the causal mechanisms are located into account. This leads to a novel reformulation of Rokkan’s hypotheses: we claim that PR is introduced when legislators face strong district-level competition and when their parties expect to gain seats from a change of the electoral law. In the empirical part, we model legislators’ support for the PR adoption and evaluate the relative importance of district-level competition and vulnerability resulting from electoral inroads made by Social Democratic candidates; partisan calculations arising from disproportionalities in the allocation of
votes to seats; and economic conditions at the district-level, specifically variation in skill profiles. Support for the adoption of PR is explained by a combination of district vulnerabilities and seat-vote disproportionality.
Winner of the Lawrence Longley Award for best article on representation and electoral systems of the American Political Science Association (2015).
Coalitional realignment and the adoption of non-contributory policies in Latin America. Joint with Matthew Carnes. 2015. Socio-Economic Review, 12, 695- 722.
What explains the recent rise in non-contributory social insurance programmes in Latin America? Since the 1990s, Latin American countries have enacted significant social policy reforms that have supplemented contributory insurance policies with new or expanded non-contributory programmes, financed by general tax revenues. We present a political explanation for this phenomenon, arguing that the process of deindustrialization, and especially the increased labour insecurity that it entails, has changed the mix of social insurance policies favoured by different individuals in the income and employment distributions. A long-term increase in economic insecurity has increased the relative demand for tax-financed, rather than contributionfinanced, social insurance. Elected officials, especially those in the recent ‘rise of the Left’ in Latin America, have proved eager to meet these demands. We find
strong evidence for this argument using both cross-national data on non-contributory pension policy adoption and individual-level data on policy preferences.
Measuring the individual determinants of social insurance preferences: evidence from the Argentinean pension privatization. Joint with Matthew Carnes. 2015. Latin American Research Review. 48:3, 108- 129.
This study employs an original, nationally representative survey of individuals in Argentina to understand the economic and political factors that shape individual-level preferences for social insurance. In the past two decades, Latin American democracies have undertaken significant changes in their social welfare institutions, in some cases dramatically reversing course from previous policies. We develop a theoretical framework to explain how and when citizens will shift their preferences over competing social policy proposals. We emphasize the role of dissatisfaction with prevailing policies in creating political opportunities for the introduction of sweeping reforms. Our survey capitalizes on the 2008 pension reform in
Argentina to test competing hypotheses regarding preferences for different kinds of old-age insurance. We find that socioeconomic status and personal experience with earlier policies shape the role partisanship plays in forming preferences about changes in social insurance programs.
The macroeconomic consequences of the welfare state. 2012. In Oxford Handbook of the Welfare States, Edited by Francis G. Castles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger and Christopher Pierson, New York: Oxford University Press, Chapter 37. Article | Abstract
Social policy in developing countries Joint with Matthew Carnes. 2009. Annual Review of Political Science. 12. 93- 115.
Drawing on recent work and data on social protection in the developing world, this essay evaluates the current state of the art and suggests several important new lines of research. We first examine the historical origin and evolution of social protection systems in developing countries, arguing that insufficient attention has been paid to the authoritarian roots of developing nations’ social policy. As a preliminary effort to remedy this shortcoming in the literature, we offer a political logic for the observed variation in the character of institutions of social policy established by nondemocratic regimes. Next, we explore recent research examining linkages between models of economic development and welfare regimes in developing countries. Finally, we turn to the study of the political determinants of the social policy reforms that occurred in the final decades of the twentieth century, arguing that variation in reform across policy areas has been more complex than is generally appreciated in the literature. To explain this variation, we develop a theory that identifies the political coalitions supporting different policy outcomes.
Distributional conflicts in mature welfare states. 2008. in Swenson, Peter and Shapiro, Ian and Donno, Daniela, eds., Divide and Deal. New York: New York University Press, 43- 71. Article | Abstract
The welfare state, growth and employment. 2007. International Social Security Review, 60: 2-3, 65- 81. Article | Abstract
The comparative study of welfare states. 2007. In Lichbach, Mark and Zuckerman, Alan. Comparative Politics. Second Edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 358- 375. Article | Abstract
The Welfare State in Global Perspective. 2007. Joint with Matthew Carnes. In Boix, Carles and Stokes, Susan, eds., Handbook of comparative politics. New York: Oxford University Press, 868- 885.
Over the last few decades of the twentieth century, the literature examining crossnational variation in the development of policies of social protection has been one of the most dynamic Welds of research in comparative politics. The sustained eVort of sociologists, political scientists, and conomists to understand the causes and consequences of diVerent welfare states has generated a vast literature that is methodologically eclectic and theoretically vibrant. The accumulation of Wndings in this literature has fruitfully illuminated one of the most signiWcant achievements of modern states: the ability to protect citizens from poverty in the event of sickness, old age, and unemployment.
Social Protection around the world: External insecurity, state capacity and domestic political cleavages. Comparative Political Studies 2015. 38:6, 623- 651.
This article develops and tests a political model specifying the conditions under which external risk leads to the introduction of redistributive social policies and argues that external risk sharpens a domestic political cleavage over the design of institutions of social insurance. Workers in sectors facing high volatility of income will support the introduction ofsocial policies characterized by broad levels of insurance coverage and high redistribution of costs across occupations,
whereas workers in low-risk sectors will oppose redistributive social policies. The strength of preexisting state institutions also affects policy preferences of various sectors. In the presence of
weak, ineffective states that are unable to collect social insurance contributions from sectors that are net contributors to the system, high-risk sectors will find redistributive social policies unattractive. The article tests predictions of the model using new measures of the level of social insurance coverage in more than 100 countries.
Wage Bargaining in the presence of social policy transfers. World Politics, 57:1, 99–142.
The welfare state is a large, nearly ubiquitous presence in the economic activity of all advanced industrialized societies. The average level of government expenditures in OECD economies grew from 28 percent of GDP in 1960 to 51 percent of GDP in 1997.1 This expansion of the public sector has been accompanied by a commensurate growth
in the level of taxes necessary to finance the associated social policy commitments. Using an average figure for OECD economies, the amount of taxes grew from 27.6 of GDP in 1960 to 39.4 percent of GDP in 1995.2 The consequences of this massive expansion of the size of the welfare state on the employment performance of most economies varied significantly over time, however. During the initial decades of the postwar period, the growth in the size of the welfare state came at relatively low costs in terms of employment. The high levels of employment achieved by many European economies during the period suggested to many observers that the policy goals of full employment and welfare state expansion could be compatible.
External insecurity and social policy expansion: evidence from interwar Europe.International Organization, 58: 4, 745- 774.
What is the impact of economic insecurity on the development of institutions of social insurance? Existing studies have examined this question by exploring the impact of various measures of economic volatility on aggregate government
expenditures or revenues. These aggregate data are, however, an imperfect proxy of the character of institutions of social protection. To overcome the limitations of earlier studies, this article explores the conditions under which economic insecurity leads to the extension of the level of social insurance coverage. I argue that economic insecurity sharpens a sectoral cleavage between coalitions in “high-risk” and “low-risk” sectors. Workers (and some employers) in high-risk sectors will favor the introduction of social insurance institutions characterized by broad levels of coverage and a high redistribution of costs across occupations. In contrast, a cross-class alliance in low-risk sectors will oppose proposals aiming at the introduction of redistributive social policies, fearing that these policies will turn them into subsidizers of high-risk industries. A redistributive social insurance policy will be introduced only if the “highrisk” coalition is larger. The article tests both the micro- and macro-level implications of this theory, by examining the development of unemployment insurance policies in interwar Europe.
Firms and the welfare state: When, Why and How does social policy matter to employers? 2001. in Peter Hall and David Soskice, eds., Varieties of Capitalism: The National Foundations of Comparative Institutional Advantage, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 184- 212. Article | Abstract
Strategic Bargaining and Social Policy Development: The Case of Unemployment Insurance in France and Germany. 2001. In Manow, Philip and Ebbinghaus, Bernhard, Varieties of Welfare Regimes, London: Routledge, pp. 52- 75. Article | Abstract
The sources of business interest in social insurance: sectoral versus national differences.World Politics, 55: 2, 229- 258.
What factors explain the preferences of employers toward various policies of social insurance? When and why have employers supported the creation of policies that provide insurance benefits to workers who experience various employment-related risks? These important questions for the political history of the modern welfare state have been largely overlooked by political economists and social policy scholars. Most studies on the development of systems of social protection have assumed that employers oppose the expansion of social insurance. Business, it has commonly been argued, has left its imprint on the political history of the modern welfare state by opposing the demands of labor-based organizations or by counteracting the administrative largesse of bureaucratic officials. The dominant research tradition on the development of modern institutions of social insurance has characterized the expansion of the welfare state as “politics against markets”— the political triumph of labor-based organizations over a political community of employers forced into retreat.
Winner of Gregory Luebbert Award for best article in Comparative Politics awarded by the American Political Science Association, 2004.
Enterprise Reorganization and Social Insurance Reform: the Development of Early Retirement in France and Germany. 2001. Governance, 14 (3): 295- 318. Article | Abstract
Strategic Alliances and Social Policy Reform: Unemployment Insurance in Comparative Perspective. Politics and Society, 28 (2): 223- 244.