Effect of informal tax system on the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. case study of women in Musanze sector (2017-2019)

By The Rwandan Economist

Introduction

In reality, very few citizens in low-income countries whether men or women  pay taxes to the central government. In reality, rather than taxes paid to a general fund for public expenditures, user fees are often more central to the financing of local public goods and services (Moore & Fjeldstad 2018). At the same time, while formal taxation is often constrained, local residents in many communities throughout the developing world do contribute substantially  outside the formal tax system  to the construction and maintenance of local public goods’ through what is known as informal taxation (Olken & Singhal 2011).

Informal taxes  made to state or non-state actors either in cash, in kind or through labour contribute to the financing of local public goods, but are enforced outside of the formal legal system. In practice, these payments are often necessary to access basic services, including health, education, and water, and can be an important means of filling the gaps left by the state or complementing state service provision. Given these realities, not including user fees and informal taxes within analyses of tax systems in low-income countries is likely to miss much of how local services are actually financed (Muriaas et al., 2008). 

Gender inequities are imbedded within social, political and economic structures; accordingly, only considering formal structures  including formal government tax and the formal tax administration does not capture the myriad ways that gendered power dynamics can permeate the processes of revenue extraction and local governance. 

In low-income countries, citizens often pay ‘informal taxes’ that differ substantially from what is required by statute. These non-statutory payments are central to financing both local public goods and maintaining informal governance institutions. Direct informal contributions from households, coordinated by local leaders and enforced through means outside of the formal legal system, often finance key local public goods in the absence of strong state institutions, while supporting the general maintenance of formal and informal governance institutions (Young, 2000). 

The informal sector consists of firms and individuals who are not fully registered and regulated, and therefore not in the standard tax net. Taxing the informal sector can be through registration and formalization to push these firms and individuals into the tax net, or it can be through taxing them indirectly. In most countries there are several types of business registration and varying degrees of formalization. Formalization can encourage business growth, create a better business environment, and help build a culture of tax compliance (Joshi, & Heady, 2014). An economic modelling study suggests that full enforcement of taxation on the informal sector would increase labor productivity and output through reducing economic distortions (Leal, 2014). However, it is unlikely that taxing the informal sector through formalization of all firms would bring in significant tax revenues at least in the short- and medium-term (de Mel & Woodruff, 2013). In general, a firm’s decision about whether to formalize is based on an analysis of the costs (which can include higher taxes) and benefits (such as growing the business through official advertising and access to credit markets). For some firms, especially small firms and micro-enterprises, formalization would not be beneficial, even if it were cheap and straightforward. Simplifying and lowering the cost of registration has little or no effect on getting small firms to formalize, according to a review of econometric evidence (Bruhn & McKenzie, 2014).

Analyses of tax systems often implicitly assume that lower income citizens in low-income countries largely escape taxation, particularly at the local level and in rural areas. However, a small but growing body of literature demonstrates that a narrow focus on formal taxation captures only the idealized rather than the real tax system in many contexts. In many low-income contexts citizens make a wide variety of tax-like payments to both state and non-state authorities, but which fall outside of statutory tax laws and do not appear in government budgets. These payments are, in turn, widely overlooked. Better understanding the realities of both informal taxation is critical to understanding the real effective fiscal burden on households, the nature of financing for local public goods and services, and the broader dynamics of decentralization and local governance (Olken & Singhal ,2011).

Livelihood is a set of activities performed to live for a given life span, involving securing water, food, fodder, medicine, shelter, clothing and the capacity to acquire above necessities working either individually or as a group by using endowments (both human and material) for meeting the requirements of the self and his/her household on a sustainable basis with dignity. The activities are usually carried out repeatedly (Davis, 2004).  A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (stores, resources, claims and access) and activities required for a means of living: a livelihood is sustainable which can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation; and which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels and in the short and long term (Ellis, 2010). 

As issue determining this study,the international community has increasingly paid attention to the importance of taxation to sustainable and equitable development, while recognizing gender equity and women’s empowerment as development goals in their own right. In recent years, activists and policy-oriented researchers have begun to explore how tax policy and administration reform may serve to reinforce or address gender inequities (Barnett & Grown 2004). Given that the majority of research in this area remains focused on issues of taxation and gender equity in high income countries, it is perhaps unsurprising that policy oriented work has tended to think about tax and gender through a narrow, Westernized lens, which predominately focuses on formal taxes, administration, and institutions. 

This lens is problematic as it leads us to overlook the ways in which women interact with tax systems in low income countries in practice. It assumes that women do not pay significant amounts of tax as a corollary of maintaining less formal employment and owning less assets and property than men (Perrons 2015). However, this ignores the more complex dynamics of local public finance that affect citizens in low income countries.

The research report divided into five chapters as follows: Chapter one: General introduction. This chapter comprises the background of the study, problem statement, research objectives, research questions, research hypotheses, scope of the study, interests of the study and of study. Chapter two: Literature review: This chapter consists of the literature review and comprises all the concepts definitions, theoretical framework and related studies made by other researchers whom the researcher relies on during the research activities. Chapter three entails the research methodology. Chapter four consists of results and discussions while chapter five presents the conclusion and recommendations. 

Results and discussion

Table 1:Category and population of study

CategorySize
23,536  women23504
Executive secretary of 7 cells in Musanze Sector7
RRA Musanze employees13
Total 23,556

1. Identification of respondents

This section presents the identification of sampled respondents and entails the necessary characteristics of the respondents which include their gender, age, education level and years of service. Presenting these data enabled to obtain a clear picture of sampled respondents. 

1.1. Gender of respondents

Gender of respondents was assessed in this study. Here, the study wanted to establish the gender characteristics of the respondents and the respondents were asked to state their gender. Table 1 depicts the results obtained on this issue: 

Table 2:Distribution of respondents by gender

GenderFrequencyPercentage
Male88.33
Female8891.67
Total96100.00

Findings in table 2 show that majority of respondents 91.67% are female whereas 8.33% of respondents were male. The female were majority because case study was the women of Musanze Sector, and male were included the employee of RRA Musanze and Executives secretary of cells. 

1.2. Age of respondents

Respondents were asked to present their age category to ensure that respondents are fully identified and the age distribution of respondents involved in the study and enables to determine the age segments which exists in the overall target population. Results are presented in the table.

Table 3:Distribution of respondents by age

AgeFrequencyPercentage
Between 21-25 years1818.75
Between 26-30years4041.66
Between 31-35 years2121.87
Between 36-40years1111.45
Between 41 and above66.25
Total 96100

Table 3 shows that 18.75% of respondents have between 21-25 years and 41.66% of respondents are in the age range of between 26-30 years, 21.87% of respondents have between 31-35 years, 11.45% of responds have between 36-40 years whereas 6.25% of respond have between 41 and above year old. Based on these findings, it shown that majority of sampled respondents are in the category of youth since the great number have less than 35 years old. This implies that a significant proportion of respondents are in their youthful and maturity age and have fresh mind hence were able to easily cooperate and provide adequate and accurate information about the variables under study. 

1.3.  Marital status of the respondents

The marital status of the respondents was also covered and analyzed to assess their views in relation to the study variables of relationship between of informal tax system on the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. This contained of those who were married, single, widowed, and separated/divorced.

Table 4:Distribution of the respondent’s marital status

Marital statusFrequencyPercentage
Single3232.97
Married5153.85
Divorced54.40
Widow88.79
TOTAL96100

As seen in the table 4 above, majority of the study respondents constituting 53.85% were married and these were followed by respondents who were single as reported by 32.97% of the respondents. 4.40 % of respondents were divorced and 8.79 % were widow. All these respondents of the study regardless of their status were willing to provide the information that was required by the study that helped in understanding the study problem that was under research. 

1.4. Level of education of respondents

Here, the study wanted to identify respondents based on their education level and requested respondents to indicate their highest level of education. Table 4 displays their education levels. 

Table 5:Distribution of respondents by educational level

Level of educationFrequencyPercentage
No school18.8
Primary2516.2
Secondary5657.3
Bachelors degree1417.7
Total96100

Table 5 illustrates that 57.3% of respondents have attended secondary schools, 17.7% have bachelors’ degree in different field, 16.2% of respondents have attended primary school while 8.8% of respondents did not attend any formal schools. This demonstrates that the majority of respondents selected for this study have achieved secondary and university levels. This implies that most of the respondents have adequate knowledge and ability about the effect of informal tax system on the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women and are able to provide the necessary information for the completion of this study. In addition the respondents are educated which means that they could read, understand and interpret questionnaires reliably. The data collected was believed to be reliable and was thus processed to present findings. The findings from the table was supported by Kothari (2003) which confirmed that the qualification of the respondents play a crucial role in providing the constructive information mainly as most of them are qualified in the field of the study.

1.5.The informal taxation system

This section displays the findings obtained from respondents on questions related to the informal taxation system. This section is devoted towards finding answers to the research question one.

1.5.1 Responses on whether know informal taxation system

Respondents were asked whether know informal taxation system and their views to the question are summarized in the table below:

Table 6:Respondents’ views on whether knowing  informal taxation system

ResponsesFrequencyPercentage
Strongly agree8689.58
Agree1010.42
Not sure00.00
Total96100.00

Table 6 shows that 89.58% of respondents strongly agreed and 10.42% of respondents agreed that they know informal taxation system while 0% of respondents were not sure to the statement. This implies that the majority of respondents were positive to the statement. Basing on the above findings it was established that know informal taxation system. This is in accordance with RRA (2013) Stated that the share of households making informal tax payments is 20% or higher in Rwanda and participation rates are always higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

1.5.2. The characteristics of informal tax system in Musanze  Sector 

Respondents were asked whether the characteristics of informal tax system in Musanze Sector and the table below depicts their views on the issue.

Table 7: The characteristics of informal tax system in Musanze  Sector

The characteristics of informal tax systemResponsesFrequencyPercentage
Underemployment  Strongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Bad working conditions
Strongly agree8588.54
Agree1111.46
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Uncertain work relationships or job security Strongly agree9093.75
Agree66.25
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Low wagesStrongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00

The table 7 indicates that 100% of respondents strongly agreed that underemployment and low wages was the characteristics of informal tax system in Musanze Sector. This implied that in Musanze Sector the women were underemployment and did low wages those effect informal tax system. The table above indicates that 88.54 % of respondents strongly agreed that bad working conditions was the characteristics of informal tax system in Musanze  Sector while 11.46 % were agreed. This indicated that in Musanze Sector they are the women who work in bad conditions that effect informal tax system. The table above indicates 93.75% of responded strongly agreed that uncertain work relationships or job security was the characteristics of informal tax system in Musanze Sector while 6.25 % were agreed. This is shows that in Musanze Sector the women had jon insecurity that effect informal tax system. This indicates that in Musanze Sector was the formal tax system effect the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. These findings are completed by the one found by ILO (2002) stated that informal sector comprises workers and businesses which are not registered by the state, and which do not necessarily comply with legal obligations. Informal businesses are often not visible to government and the work is typically poorly paid and precarious.

1.5.3. The disadvantages of informal taxation system in Musanze Sector

Respondents were asked the disadvantages of informal taxation system and the table below depicts their views on the issue

Table 8: The disadvantages of informal taxation system

The disadvantages of informal taxation system FrequencyPercentage
Cut taxes9194.79
Insurance or health insurance scheme8891.67
Difficult to make any savings due to low wages9295.83
A brief illness or injury 9396.88
No financial means to survive9598.96
Low productivity9497.92

Findings in table 8 reveals that 94.79% of respondents confirmed that cut taxes was the disadvantages of informal taxation system 91.67% of respondents strongly agreed that Insurance or health insurance scheme was disadvantages of informal taxation system, 95.83% of respondents established  that difficult to make any savings due to low wages was disadvantages of informal taxation system. 96.88% of responds were agreed that a brief illness or injury was disadvantages of informal taxation system, 98.96% of responds were approved that No financial means to survive, 97.92% of responds were confirmed that   low productivity was disadvantages of informal taxation system in Musanze Sector. This implies that the informal taxation caused many advantages to the Government, society and themselves (informer taxation). Theses funding supported by Kothari (2016) who found that the substantial cost advantage that informal companies gain by avoiding taxes and regulations more than offsets their low productivity and small scale.

1.6. Livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

This section covers findings from the specific questions that were asked in order to determine livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector.

1.6.1 Livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector.

The researcher has been asked to the respondents to confirm whether there is livelihood of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector and the table below depicts their views on the issue.

Table 9:Confirmation of livelihood of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector

ConformationFrequencyPercent
Strongly agree8891.67
Agree88.33
Disagree00
Total96100

From the table 9 presented that the respondents have strongly agree with 91.67%, 8.33% have agreed that there are livelihood of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector. This indicates that the socioeconomic development of Musanze sector is also due to livelihood of poorer Rwandan women. The founding confirmed by Diane (2016) who said that a livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (stores, resources, claims and access) and recovers from stress and shocks maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation and which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels and in the long and short run. 

1.6.2 The types of income/activities of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze  Sector

The types of livelihood of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector have been considered in this study in order to identify what are the real types available in social capital, human capital, financial capital and physical capital, then the results was presented in the tables.

Table 10: The types of income/activities of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector

The types of income/activities of poorer Rwandan womenFrequencyPercentage
Poultry raising66.25
Petty trading2323.96
Animal husbandry66.25
Weaving1616.67
Milk cows trading1111.46
Goat-raising55.21
Horticulture2930.21
Total96100

The table 10 indicates that 6.25% of respondents their activities / incomes was the poultry raising, 23.96%  of respondents their activities / incomes was the petty trading, 6.25% of respondents their activities / incomes was the  animal husbandry, 16.67% of respondents their activities / incomes was the weaving, 11.46 % of respondents their activities / incomes was the milk cows trading, 5.21% of respondents their activities / incomes was the goat-raising, 30.21% of respondents their activities / incomes was the horticulture.  This implied that in Musanze  Sector there are poor women because of low income generated. The founding confirmed by Chambers (1983) pointed out that moral factors such as laziness drunkard ness and home background contribute to a problem of poverty. Remoteness and inadequate resources contribute highly to the accuracy of poverty in rural areas. Rural people tend to be physically weak, remain isolated, vulnerable, and poor.

1.6.3. The indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector

Respondents were asked whether the the indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze  Sector and the table depicts their views on the issue.

Table 11: The indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector

The  indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan womenResponsesFrequencyPercentage
Land leased
Strongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Wage-labor 
Strongly agree8588.54
Agree1111.46
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
LandlessStrongly agree9093.75
Agree66.25
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
LaborersStrongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00

The table 11 indicates that 100% of respondents strongly agreed that land leased and laborers were the indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector. This indicated that the poorer Rwandan women had land lease as characteristic of the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan Women. The table above indicates that 88.54 % of respondents strongly agreed that wage-labor was the indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector while 11.46 % were agreed. This implied that the poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector were wage labor as livelihoods of poor Rwandan women. The table above indicates 93.75% of responded strongly agreed that landless was the indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector while 6.25 % were agreed. This shows that in MusaThis indicates that in Musanze Sector was the livelihoods of poor Rwandan women. These findings are completed by the one found by Burkey (1993) stated that women are splitting their time between work and care of the home, men are pressured into being the primary economic supporter of the home. Despite the fact that different households may divide chores more evenly, there is evidence that women have retained the primary caregiver role within family life despite their contributions economically.

1.7. Relationship between the informal tax system and livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

Respondents were asked whether relationship between the informal tax system and livelihoods of poorer Rwandan womenand the table below depicts their views on the issue.

Table 12:  Respondents’ views relationship between the informal tax system and livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

AnswersFrequencyPercentage
Strongly agree96100%
Agree00%
Disagree00%
Strongly agree00%
Total96100

From the data tabled 12, 100% strongly agreed that there are relationship between the informal tax system and livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. It demonstrate that the women in Musanze Sector generate low income effect the informal tax system. This lime with de Mel et al., (2013) who analyzed that  tax systems often implicitly assume that lower income citizens in low-income countries largely escape taxation, particularly at the local level and in rural areas.

1.7.1. The effect of the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

Respondents were asked whether the effect of the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women and the table below depicts their views on the issue.

Table 13: Respondents’ views the effect of the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

The effect of  the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan womenResponsesFrequencyPercentage
Absence of official protection and recognitionStrongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Non coverage by minimum wage legislation and social security systemStrongly agree8588.54
Agree1111.46
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Predominance of own-account and self-employment workStrongly agree9093.75
Agree66.25
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Absence of trade union organizationStrongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Low income and wagesStrongly agree8588.54
Agree1111.46
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Little job securityStrongly agree9093.75
Agree66.25
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
No fringe benefits from institutional sourcesStrongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Unauthorized use of vacant public or private landStrongly agree8588.54
Agree1111.46
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Illegal subdivision and/or rental of landStrongly agree9093.75
Agree66.25
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Unauthorized construction of structures and buildingsStrongly agree96100.00
Agree00.00
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Absence of restrictive standards and regulationsStrongly agree9093.75
Agree66.25
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00
Non-availability of mortgage or any other subsidized financeStrongly agree8588.54
Agree1111.46
Disagree00.00
Total96100.00

The table 13 indicates that indicates that 100 % of respondents strongly agreed that absence of official protection and recognition, absence of trade union organization, no fringe benefits from institutional sources, unauthorized construction of structures and buildings were the effect of the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. The table indicated that 88.54% of respondents strongly agreed while 11.46 % were agreed that non coverage by minimum wage legislation and social security system, low income and wages, unauthorized use of vacant public or private land, non-availability of mortgage or any other subsidized finance were the effect of the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. The table indicated that 93.75% of respondents were strongly agreed that predominance of own-account and self-employment work, little job security, illegal subdivision and/or rental of land and absence of restrictive standards and regulations were the effect of the informal tax system on livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women while, 6.25 % of respondents were also agreed. This indicated that the informal taxation effect negative of livelihood of poor Rwandan women. The finding was consistent to Burkey (1993) says that poverty is caused by physical factors such as poor health , physical handicaps , shortage of land and inadequate education  Further, He points out that moral factors such as laziness drunkard ness and home background contribute to a problem of poverty. Remoteness and inadequate resources contribute highly to the accuracy of poverty in rural areas. Rural people tend to be physically weak, remain isolated, vulnerable, and poor.

1.7.2. Relationship between the informal tax system and livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

The objectives of this study were to find out whether there is a link between the informal tax system and livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. Linear regression analysis was done in order to determine the explanatory power of independent variables whereby the ANOVA. Table was obtained and the estimated coefficients of the model.

1.7..2.1. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA)

As presented in table 14, ANOVA statistics was conducted to determine the differences in the means of the dependent and independent variables to show whether a relationship exists between the two.

Table 13:ANOVA Model

DFSum SquareMeans SquareFSignificance F
Regression44.0192.3104.387.002a
Residual19115.423.445

Total19519.442   

The P-value of 0.002 implies that livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women has a significant joint relationship with underemployment, bad working conditions, uncertain work relationships and low wages which is significant at 5 percent level of significance. This also depicted the significance of the regression analysis done at 95% confidence level. This implies that the regression model is significant and can thus be used to assess the association between the dependent and independent variables. According to Gelman (2006), ANOVA statistics analyzes the differences between group means and their associated procedures (such as variation” among and between groups).

1.7.2.2. Regression coefficients of determination

To determine the relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable and the respective strengths, the regression analysis produced coefficients of determination as presented in table 15.

Table 15:  Regression coefficient results


Unstandardized CoefficientsStandardized CoefficientsTSig.

BStd. ErrorBeta

(Constant)6.7514.732
1.427.043
Underemployment 1.0210.589.2961.733.017
Bad working conditions 1.244.697.3381.785.033
Uncertain work relationships .889.689.2871.290.032
Low wages.761.720.3621.057.023

a. Dependent Variable: livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women

Findings in table 14, Reveal a positive relationship between livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women and all the independent variables. Taking the regression model: Y = α +  β1X1 + β2X2 + β3 X3 + є; where, Y= livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women; α = Constant; β1 – β4 = Beta coefficients; X1 = Underemployment; X2 = bad working conditions; X3 = uncertain work relationships; X4 = low wages l and Є = Error term, the established regression equation was:

Livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women = 6.751 +1.021 (Underemployment) + 1.244 (bad working conditions) + .889 (uncertain work relationships) + .761 (low wages).

A unit change in underemployment would thus lead to a 1.021 change in livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women ceteris paribus; a unit change in bad working conditions would lead to a 1.244 change in livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women ceteris paribus and a unit change in uncertain work relationships processes would lead to a .889 change in livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women ceteris paribus while a unit change in low wages would lead to a .761 change in livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. This implies that among factors, Underemployment, bad working conditions, uncertain work relationships and low wages are strong and significant determinants of in livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector.

 Conclusion 

This study has been conducted with the main objective to examine effect of informal tax system on the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. Case study women in Musanze sector. (2017-2019). the study established that Underemployment, bad working conditions, uncertain work relationships and low wages are the characteristics of informal tax system.  Furthermore, the study demonstrated that by Land leased, wage-labor; landless, laborers, are the indicators of livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women in Musanze Sector. The study established that there are positive relationship between of informal tax system and the livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women. Based on these findings the study concluded that the informal tax system was effected by livelihoods of poorer Rwandan women 

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