Save the Children’s Head of Research Alex Cobham has launched a blog that examines issues of inequality. Named “Uncounted,” the blog has listed topics such as the life expectancy of indigenous peoples, caste and tribal poverty, and female illiteracy as those that reflect society’s marginalization of individuals. At the same time, Cobham applies his inequality motif to tax issues, yet he notes a distinction between being “uncounted” by a lack of power and being “uncounted” by design. The latter “reflects the presence, not the absence of power.”
Indeed, in the latest post, “offshore Trillions and Uncounted Inequality,” Cobham asserts that societies and individuals are actually empowered when suffering from tax-based inequality. Unlike those who suffer from aforementioned social injustices, these people influence policymakers by their tolerance of such inequality. He explains,
“As I’ve argued elsewhere, the evidence from experimental economics suggests that there are two main determinants of people’s tax compliance: the extent of redistribution that actually happens once taxes have been paid, and the perception of others’ compliance. This means that policymakers have a lot of leverage. The more they can ensure the system reduces inequality, for example through effective social protection and reduced losses to corruption, the higher compliance is likely to be. The higher is observed compliance among the most visible (elites and big business), the higher actual compliance more widely is likely to be.”
Cobham’s other posts have focused on Save the Children’s Child Development Index, comparing the 2012 scores to those of the similar UNDP Human Development Index. The Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development’s blog has also featured Cobham, whose posts can be found here.
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