Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Taxes, National Identity, and Nation Building: Evidence from France

Johnson, Noel (2015): Taxes, National Identity, and Nation Building: Evidence from France.

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What is the relationship between state capacity, national identity, and economic development? This paper argues that increases in state capacity can lower the collective action costs associated with political and economic exchange by encouraging the formation of a common identity. This hypothesis is tested by exploiting the fact that the French Monarchy was more successful in substituting its fiscal and legal institutions for those of the medieval seigneurial regime within an area of the country known as the Cinq Grosses Fermes (CGF). Highly disaggregated data on regional self-identification from the 1789 Cahiers de Doléances confirm that regions just inside the CGF were more likely than regions just outside the CGF to identify themselves with national, as opposed to local, institutions. We also show that regions inside the CGF that affiliated with national identity were more economically developed during the first half of the nineteenth century and more likely to contribute towards local public goods.

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