Request for research proposals
Data for tax revenue mobilization

UNU-WIDER is seeking proposals for original research that employs the Government Revenue Dataset (GRD) from researchers working on tax revenue performance and related fields in developing countries and beyond. Submission deadline: 17 October 2021, 23:59 UTC+3

Under its Domestic Revenue Mobilization programme, the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics (UNU-WIDER), with the generous support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), is aiming to encourage further use and potential extensions of the Government Revenue Dataset (GRD) by researchers to enhance the quality and timeliness of analysis that informs policy-making in developing countries. UNU-WIDER encourages research using the GRD to provide novel insights on key questions related to the analysis of tax revenue performance in developing countries and beyond.

GRD provides the most complete, high quality, and transparent cross-country dataset on public revenues available. GRD is updated annually, collating data from major international databases, and draws on data compiled from the public archive of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV Staff Reports. A GRD update was released on 18 August 2021.

UNU-WIDER is now seeking proposals for original research from researchers — working on tax revenue performance and related fields in developing countries and beyond — who would like to contribute to the objectives of the project. We are particularly interested in papers which enhance the quality and timeliness of analysis that informs policy-making in developing countries, but also welcome strong theoretical contributions with relevance to this area of research. As part of the project, researchers are asked to take part in a UNU-WIDER workshop to take place tentatively in April/May 2022.

This Request for Research Proposals aims to bring together research that employs the GRD in combination with other data sources, databases, or measurements to address, amongst others, the following policy topics:

  • What explains the observed variation in revenue mobilization both within and across developing countries over the past four decades?
  • How has government revenue been affected by and responded to country-specific, regional, or global shocks and crises? This can address more recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but also ongoing issues around climate change or fluctuations in commodity prices.
  • The relationships between government revenues and other aspects of the economy more broadly (such as unemployment, poverty reduction, inequality, or trade etc.).
  • How do political, legislative, or administrative factors affect tax revenue mobilization?
  • What can we learn about tax revenue mobilisation in developing countries when combining the GRD with other novel data sources?

We welcome papers that fall into one of the following categories:

  • theoretical models with empirical applications
  • political economy models
  • data-focused analysis
  • studies that replicate or challenge existing results, using improved data, methods, or coverage.
Offer and expectations

UNU-WIDER invites proposals from qualified researchers for papers utilizing the GRD as outlined above. If set publishing criteria is met, the papers will be published in the WIDER Working Paper Series. The papers need to be written in English, and limited to 10,000 words maximum (inclusive of text, tables, figures, footnotes, references, etc.). 

Proposals from individuals (or groups of individuals) as well as non-profit organizations are welcome. Applications from women and developing country researchers are particularly encouraged. One author of each successful proposal is expected to attend a 1-2 day workshop in April/May 2022 exact date and modality (TBC) where near-final papers will be presented and discussed.

Read the full announcement for more information.

Proposed timeline
31 August 2021 Launch of request for research proposals
30 September 2021 Final opportunity to send questions on the request for research proposals
17 October 2021 Proposal submission deadline
30 November 2021 Target date for decisions on submitted proposals
15 March 2022 Target date for submission of revised first full drafts of papers and a one-page summary of key findings
April/May 2022 GRD project workshop 
Proposal submission procedure

Submission of proposals is done electronically by using the online application form on the RFRP announcement page. There are three forms to select from: one for individuals, another for groups of individuals, and a third for non-profit organizations. Details (such as address, gender, nationality, date of birth) of all researchers involved are to be entered onto the form. Please familiarize yourself with the form in advance.

Any questions on the proposal process should be sent to by 30 September 2021. All queries and responses will be published on this page and they will be updated on a rolling basis.