on public revenue mobilization and inequality

Submission deadline: 30 November 2018, 23:59 UTC+2

UNU-WIDER has issued a Request for Research Proposals (RFRP) that will advance the SA-TIED programme’s work on public revenue mobilization and inequality.

The aim of the programme is to enhance economic research, capacity-building, and policy dialogue in South Africa and the southern Africa region. The recent availability of South African tax administrative datasets for research purposes creates new opportunities for policy-relevant, evidence-based research on questions about tax policy, firm behaviour, job creation, public revenue, and inequality. 

Internationally, research using tax administrative data has been key to informing well-designed tax and labour market policies, appropriate redistributive social expenditure programmes, and broader strategies to overcome inequality and support inclusive growth and development. Until recently, researchers working on South Africa have lacked the requisite data to truly support good policy-making in this arena. This RFRP invites the research community to join UNU-WIDER and its partners in the important process of generating evidence based on this newly available data.

Offer and expectations

UNU-WIDER, the National Treasury of the Republic of South Africa (NT), and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) invite proposals from qualified researchers for detailed economic analysis and research of topics in domestic revenue mobilization and inequality. Researchers are encouraged to use the new administrative datasets for the research, but applied work based on other data will also be considered. Special emphasis will be given to research teams that include junior and early-career researchers.

We invite submissions, in particular (but not exclusively), on the following areas of research:

  • Impact of tax policies on economic outcomes like employment, taxable income, and firm growth and investment
  • Tax compliance and avoidance, and mitigation strategies to reduce avoidance
  • Opportunities to simplify the tax system and improve administrative procedures
  • The impacts of the tax-benefit system on household and gender-based income distributions.
  • Estimation of wealth distribution, using the investment income capitalization technique.
  • Gender inequality in the labour market (worker flows, wages, quality of jobs)

A series of framing papers on different topics within the subject areas have been prepared and can be found in the sidebar. 

As part of the RFRP an engagement workshop will be held on 15 November 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. SA-TIED researchers will present completed and ongoing research on inequality and tax policy issues. They will explore areas for research advancement and share ideas with the broader research and policy-making community for the future of this research. This event serves to frame the proposals for the RFRP and to answer questions from researchers hoping to join the SA-TIED programme.

All successful applicants will be expected to:

  • Produce a relevant research paper of sufficient quality to merit publication in the WIDER Working Paper series. Ongoing research and previous papers using the tax data can be found here. Please review these studies to avoid duplication of research.
  • Include in the research paper a data appendix of datasets and variables used.
  • Sign agreements and abide by all restrictions imposed by SARS, NT, and other government agencies with respect to disclosure of confidential firm- and individual-specific information.
  • Attend a 1–1.5-day workshop in South Africa (venue tbd) where work in progress will be presented to other contracted researchers and to selected international experts.
  • Prepare a 2-page (maximum) policy-relevant summary that brings together the key findings from the research paper and the key policy lessons.
  • Participate in a workshop/policy dialogue after completion of the final paper to communicate its policy implications.
  • Be flexible in research approach, particularly for those researchers planning on exploiting datasets that have been lightly analysed to date.
2 November 2018 Final opportunity for questions on the request for research proposals
15 November 2018 Engagement workshop
30 November 2018 Proposals due
18 January 2019  Target date for informing on funding decisions
21 February 2019  Target date for completion of necessary administrative procedures
30 May 2019    Target date for workplan due
30 October 2019  Target window for submission of first draft of papers
November 2019  Work-in-progress workshop
February 2020    Target window for submission of final paper
November 2020  Target window for policy dialogue
Proposal submission

Submission of proposals is done electronically using the appropriate form in the column on the right of this page. There are three forms to select from; one for individuals, another for groups of individuals, and a third one for non-profit institutions. Details (such as address, gender, nationality, date of birth) of all researchers involved are required to complete the form. Upload the proposal and brief CVs (two pages or less) for each researcher. Please familiarize yourself with the form in advance of applying.

Any questions on the proposal process should be sent to researchproposal@wider.unu.edu by 2 November 2018. All queries and responses will be published on the RFRP announcement page after this date.