Amartya Sen Prize Competition: Call for Papers

The third Amartya Sen Prize is soliciting papers on the non-revenue impact of curbing illicit financial flows. Poor populations are hurt when rich individuals and multinational corporations surreptitiously shift trillions of dollars in wealth and profits out of less developed countries. One harm arises from the loss of tax revenues incurred by their governments. By concealing their profits or wealth, MNCs and individuals evade taxes on profits, dividends, interest and/or capital gains—taxes that could fund social spending or tax reductions for ordinary citizens.

This year’s submissions are to focus on the other harm from illicit financial outflows: the loss of capital to a poor country’s economy, which may well substantially exceed the revenue loss. Such capital loss occurs when, often to dodge taxes or tariffs, individuals and companies of all sizes move wealth and profits offshore illicitly, e.g. through trade misinvoicing. Authors might choose to discuss the potential economic impact of reducing such capital losses: the impact on savings, investment, trade, interest rates, consumption, employment, economic growth, and/or culture and the arts, for example. In this context, it would be interesting to explore what policies domestic and international authorities might adopt in order to discourage the export of private sector capital and to amplify the beneficial effects of curbing illicit financial outflows. The latter exploration raises the partly moral question of how to value these effects from the standpoint of a less developed country’s poor majority.

Authors might also tackle the challenge of estimating the magnitude of such capital losses. Is some of the capital now illicitly removed brought back openly as new investment? Would some of the capital now illicitly removed be exported anyway, openly, even if there were no opportunity to shift it out in tax-dodging ways? Would some of the MNCs now illicitly shifting profits out have refrained from entering the country in the first place without the prospect of tax-dodging profits, and would such failures to enter be counterproductive to the interests of the developing countries?

The above lines of thought are meant to be suggestive rather than exhaustive. We hope for a creative diversity of submissions that provide a rich and well-grounded picture of what our world could look like—especially from the perspective of the poor—if illicit financial outflows from the less developed countries could be substantially curtailed.

Please email your entry to by Monday, August 29 at 5pm ET.


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