Taxation, evolutionary economics and tax populations

Valentine P. Vishnevsky, Aleksandr V. Gurnak


The article applies an evolutionary approach to the study of taxation which, in contrast to neoclassical economics and institutionalism, is focused on the long-term perspective and population determinants of the tax system development. This approach is an element of a new - evolutionary - tax paradigm. The pivotal idea of this paradigm is the idea of tax populations, whose habitats may fall beyond the state borders, as the latter are historically contingent and often unite people who belong to different genetic and socio-cultural communities. The article presents an empirical and logical investigation of the main tax population. Empirical results are based on the use of the clustering method for the sample including 117 countries. As shown by the undertaken analysis, there are, indeed, groups of countries in the world relatively homogeneous in selected indicators that can be interpreted as some supranational model of tax systems. The clusters obtained, along with a logical analysis of the social and economic development of different countries of the world, allowed us to identify and describe the core features of the main tax populations which are the European, the Chinese-East Asian, The Maghrebi-Middle Eastern, and the Indian-South Asian tax populations. The concept of main tax populations proposes a new methodological base for tax policy and tax reform activity. This does not mean that the neoclassical recommendations on tax policy and reforms are unimportant in principle, but they must be used primarily as a means of streamlining the tax system within the tax population with regard to its specific context, subject to evolutionary problems of population growth, not as universal recipes for all occasions.


taxation; methodology; evolutionary economics; institution; tax population; tax system; tax policy; tax reform

Full Text



Lindahl E. Just taxation – a positive solution (1919). In Musgrave R., Peacock A. (ed.) Classics in the theory of public finance. New York, Macmillian, 1958. Pp. 168–176.

Hicks J. The Foundations of Welfare Economics. The Economic Journal, 1939, vol. 49, no. 196, pp. 696–712.

Musgrave R. The Theory of Public Finance: A Study in Public Economy. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1959. 628 р.

Musgrave R., Musgrave P.B. Public Finance in Theory and Practice. 4th ed. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1984. 824 р.

Atkinson A., Stiglitz J.E. Lectures on public economics. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1980. 620 p.

Rosen H., Gayer T. Public Finance. Singapore, McGraw-Hill, 2008. 640 p.

Simon H. Bounded Rationality and Organizational Learning. Organization Science, 1991, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 125–134.

Diamond J. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies. New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 1994. 480 р.

Witt U. What is specific about evolutionary economics? Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 2008, vol. 18, no. 5, pp. 547–575.

Stoelhorst J.-W. The Explanatory Logic and Ontological Commitments of Generalized Darwinism. Journal of Economic Methodology, 2008, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 343–363.

Aldrich H., Hodgson G.M., Hull D.L., et al. In defence of generalized Darwinism. Journal of Institutional Economics, 2008, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 577–596.

Nelson R. Universal Darwinism and evolutionary social science. Biology and Philosophy, 2007, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 73–94.

Wilson D.S., Wilson E.O. Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 2007, vol. 82, no. 4, pp. 327–348.

Bloomquist K. Tax compliance as an evolutionary coordination game: an agent-based approach. Public Finance Review, 2011, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 25–49.

Christians A. Historic, Comparative and Evolutionary Analysis of Tax Systems. University of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper, 2010, no. 1131, p. 26. 

Garbarino C. An Evolutionary Approach to Comparative Taxation: Theory, Methods and Agenda for Research. Bocconi Legal Studies Research Paper. Milan, Bocconi University, 2007. 23 pp.

John P. Ideas and interests; agendas and implementation: an evolutionary explanation of policy change in British local government finance. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 1999, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 39–62.

Steinmo S. The evolution of policy ideas: tax policy in the 20th century. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 2003, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 206–236.

Simon H. Altruism and economics. The American Economic Review, 1993, vol. 83, no. 2, pp. 156–161.

Langer P., Nowak M., Hauert C. Spatial Invasion of Cooperation. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 2008, vol. 250, no. 4, pp. 634–641.

Hodgson G.M. The Mystery of the Routine. The Darwinian Destiny of an Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change. Revue Economique, 2003, vol. 54, no. 2, pp. 355–384.

Hodgson G.M. The concept of a routine. In Becker M.C. (ed.) Handbook of Organizational Routines. Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2008. Pp. 15–28.

Becker M. The past, present and future of organizational routines. In Becker M.C. (ed.) Handbook of Organizational Routines. Cheltenham, UK, Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2008.Pp. 3–14.

Becker M.C. Organizational Routines: a Review of the Literature. Industrial and Corporate Change, 2004, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 643–677.

Robson A. The Biological Basis of Economic Behavior. Journal of Economic Literature, 2001, vol. 39, no. 11, pp. 11–33.

Palmer J., Palmer L.K. Evolutionary Psychology. The Ultimate Origins of Human Behavior. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 2002. 304 p.

Schaffer E. What Makes A Nation Intelligent? 2011. Available at:

Lynn R. Race Differences in Intelligence: an Evolutionary Analysis. Washington, Summit Publishers Augusta, GA, A National Policy Institute Book, 2006. 205 p.

Tayyari F. The genetic basis of intelligence. The Science Creative Quarterly, 2004. Available at:

Richerson P.J., Boyd R. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago, London, University of Chicago Press, 2005. 344 p.

Richerson P., Boyd R., Henrich J. Gene-culture coevolution in the age of genomics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 2010, vol. 107, no. 2, pp. 8985–8992.

Huntington S. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1996. 367 p.

Weber M. The Social Psychology of The World Religions. In Gerth H.H., Mills C.W. (ed.) From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. New York, Oxford University Press, 1946. Pp. 267–301.

Buehn A., Schneider F. Shadow economies around the world: novel insights, accepted knowledge, and new estimates. International Tax and Public Finance, 2012, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 139–171.

OECD. Perspectives on Global Development 2013: Industrial Policies in a Changing World. Shifting up a Gear. OECD Publishing, 2013. 18 p.

National Intelligence Council. Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. National Intelligence Council Publishing, 2012. 140 p.

McKinsey Global Institute. The archipelago economy: Unleashing Indonesia’s potential. McKinsey Global Institute Publishing, 2012.  101 p.

Guiso L., Sapienza P., Zingales L. People’s opium? Religion and economic attitudes. Journal of Monetary Economics, 2003, vol. 50, no. 1, pp. 225–282.

Wallerstein I. Does India Exist / Immanuel Wallerstein. The Essential Wallerstein. New York, The New Press, 2000. Pp. 310-314.

Fukuyama F. Confucianism and Democracy. Journal of Democracy, 1995, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 20–33.

Adams Ch. For Good and Evil: the Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization. Lanham, New York, Oxford, Madison Books, 2001. 539 p.

Mirskij G. Islam: the History and the Present. Novaya i Noveishaia Istoria Journal, 2010, no. 1, pp. 1–39.

Jalili A. A Descriptive Overview of Islamic Taxation. Journal of American Academy of Business, 2006, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 16–28.

Gomez-Zimmerman M. The Capitalist Structures of Hinduism. Religion & Liberty, 1996, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 8–10.

Bose S. Hindu Ethical Considerations in Relation to Tax Evasion. In McGee R.W.W. (ed.) The Ethics of Tax Evasion. Perspectives in Theory and Practice.  New York, Springer, 2012. Pp. 135–147.

Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Confucianism. Available at:

Kern S. French Suburbs Becoming ‘Separate Islamic Societies’, 2011. Available at:

Schumpeter J. History of Economic Analysis. London, Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd., 1954. 1283 p.

Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. The Future of the Global Muslim Population: Projections for 2010–2030. Washington, D.C., Pew Research Center, 2011. 209 p.


Copyright (c) 2015 Valentine P. Vishnevsky, Aleksandr V. Gurnak

eLibrary logoeLibrary logo  DOAJ logo ERIH PLUS logo 

© Journal of Tax Reform : ISSN 2414-9497 (online), ISSN 2412-8872 (print)