NOVAFRICA Seminar: Optimal Assignment of Bureaucrats: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Tax Collectors in the DRC

On Friday, November 10th, at 02.30 pm, Lisbon time, the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Jonathan Weigel from the London School of Economics to present his work on Optimal Assignment of Bureaucrats: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Tax Collectors in the DRC.

Jonathan Weigel, London School of Economics

The assignment of workers to tasks and teams is a key margin of firm productivity and a potential source of state effectiveness. This paper investigates whether a low-capacity state can increase its tax revenue through the optimal assignment of its tax collectors. We study the two-stage random assignment of property tax collectors (i) into teams and (ii) to neighbourhoods in a large Congolese city. The optimal assignment involves positive assortative matching on both dimensions: high (low) ability collectors should be paired together, and high (low) ability teams should be paired with high (low) payment propensity households. Positive assortative matching stems from complementarities in collector-to-collector and collector-to-household match types. We provide evidence that these complementarities reflect high-ability collectors exerting greater effort when matched with other high-ability collectors. Implementing the optimal assignment would increase tax compliance by an estimated 36% relative to the status quo (random) assignment. By contrast, the government would need to replace 62% of low-ability collectors with high-ability ones or increase collectors’ performance wages by 69% to achieve a similar increase under the status quo assignment.

Find more about this seminar here.
If you want to attend via zoom register here.