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.