Taxation and International Development: North-South Conflicts over Capital Flight and International Taxation Issues after WWII (1945-1970)

Why was no multilateral regulation against capital flight and international tax evasion implemented between 1945 and 1970?


This project aims to renew studies on capital flight and tax evasion of poor countries by going back to the origin of this issue, namely the post-war period. This research will try to understand why no multilateral regulation against capital flight and tax evasion was implemented between 1945 and 1970. On the basis of the historical archives of the main international organizations active in this domain (the United Nations, IMF, OECD), the research will retrace the debates that dealt with this issue and will analyze their decision-making process. Moreover, the project will quantify the extent of illicit financial flows and international tax evasion for the same period. Indeed, although a number of macroeconomic studies have dealt with capital flight from 1970-1980 onwards, no similar effort has been undertaken for the previous period yet.

This project will ultimately examine if the post-war period – that witnessed the emergence of development aid policies – was also the time when Western countries imposed their veto on the establishment of the conditions necessary for the proper functioning of the fiscal systems of poor countries and hence for the independent financing capacity of these states. This finding would contribute to critical thinking on the use of development aid mechanisms as tools promoting the financial dependence of the South to the North during the decolonisation period.


  • International taxation
  • Capital flight
  • Tax evasion
  • South countries
  • Development aid


  • Development
  • Economics
  • Finance
  • History
  • International relations
  • Statistics


States & Public Collectivities:

  • Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
  • Université de Genève
  • Université de Lausanne
  • Paris Sciences Po
  • City University, London
  • Université de Lucerne
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Relevant Countries

  • Developed countries
  • Developing countries
  • Emerging countries
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


This project, started in 2014, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Marc Flandreau
Graduate Institute Geneva

Matthieu Leimgruber
University of Geneva

Christophe Farquet
Principal Member
University of Lausanne

Samuel Segura Cobos
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Nicolas Delalande
Associated Member
Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Science Po)

Patricia Hongler
Associated Member
University of Lucerne

Ronen Palan
Associated Member
City University

José Sanchez Roman
Associated Member
Universidad Complutense de Madrid