James E. Mahon Jr.

James Mahon

Woodrow Wilson Professor of Political Science

Schapiro Hall Rm 337
At Williams since 1990

Office hours:  W 10-12 and by appointment


B.A. Dartmouth College (1977)
M.A. University of California, Berkeley (1983)
Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, Political Science (1989)

Areas of Expertise

Professor Mahon teaches courses on political economy, comparative politics, Latin American politics, U.S.- Latin America foreign relations, and Cuba. He has authored various works on taxation and financial flows in Latin America, political economy, and comparative social inquiry. His current research examines fiscal politics and the reform of the state in Latin America.



The United States and Latin America (not offered 2024/25)

PSCI 351 / GBST 351 LEC

The New Left and Neoliberalism in Latin America (not offered 2024/25)

PSCI 352 / GBST 352 LEC

Politics in Mexico (not offered 2024/25)

Scholarship/Creative Work

Recent scholarly publications:

“Wealth Concentration in Latin America:  The Role of Direct Taxation” (with Juan Pablo Jiménez, Fernando Lorenzo, and Gustavo Viñales), in Ickler, Jan and Ramos-Padrón, Rebeca, eds., The Political Economy of Elites in Latin America (Routledge, forthcoming 2024).

“Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies:  A Guide for Democratic Reformers” (2024), available from SSRN.

“Natural Resource Wealth, Its Problems, and What Can Be Done About Them,” in Burchardt, Hans-Jurgen and Lungo-Rodriguez, Irene (eds.), Wealth, Development and Social Inequalities in Latin America: Transdisciplinary Insights (New York and London: Routledge, forthcoming 2024).

Review of Contemporary State Building: Elite Taxation and Public Safety in Latin America, by Gustavo Flores-Macías (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2022), in Perspectives on Politics, 2023.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592723000440 (doi: 10.1017/S1537592723000440)

“Social Democratic Capitalism and Its Critics” [review of two books by Lane Kenworthy], in Social Forces (2023).

“Taxation and State Capacity,” in The Oxford International Handbook of Governance and Management for Social Policy, Karen Baehler, senior editor (Oxford University Press, 2023).

(With Juan Pablo Jiménez, Fernando Lorenzo, and Gustavo Viñales) “Hacia el fortalecimiento integral de la imposición sobre la riqueza y la propiedad en América Latina: nuevas oportunidades y viejos desafíos,” Working Paper, Laboratorio Fiscal y Tributario, CINVE (Montevideo), 15 September 2021.

“Pandemic May Drive New Wealth Taxes in Latin America,” Oxford Analytica Daily Brief, January 20, 2021.  [An electronic version of the article published as a Daily Brief]

“Weak Liberalism and Weak Property Taxation in Latin America,” in Gustavo Flores-Macias, ed., The Political Economy of Taxation in Latin America (Cambridge U. Press, 2019).

“Rentier States, International Finance, and Governance” (August 25, 2018). Available at SSRN: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3284717

“Taxation, Redistribution, and Models of Fiscal Politics in Latin America,” Japanese Journal of Political Science 19(3): 353-75 (September 2018).  DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1468109918000191

“Progressive Reforms and the Art of the Possible,” [review of seven books] Latin American Research Review, 53(1): 193–201 (2018). DOI: http://doi.org/10.25222/larr.233

The 2012 Dominican Tax Reform in Historical and Regional Context (New York and Santo Domingo: Global Foundation for Development and Democracy, 2015).

(With Marcelo Bergman and Cynthia Arnson) “Introduction” and “Conclusion” in Mahon, Bergman, and Arnson, eds., Progressive Tax Reform and Equality in Latin America, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas no. 35 (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2015).

“Economic Freedom and the Size of Government,” Challenge (Jan/Feb 2014).  Link to Online Appendix.    Link to longer 2015 version on SSRN here.

Tax Incidence and Tax Reforms in Latin America,” Woodrow Wilson Center Update on the Americas (November 2012).

“Tax Reforms and Income Distribution in Latin America,” in M. Blofield, ed., The Great Gap: Inequality and the Politics of Redistribution in Latin America.  University Park, PA:  Pennsylvania State University Press (2011), pp. 313-347.


Links to files related to “Causes of Tax Reform in Latin America,” Latin American Research Review 39:1 (February 2004): TaxReformDataAnalysis (html); dataset for LARR article (Excel); larger, messy dataset (Excel).

Selected opinion pieces:

Torture and American Exceptionalism,” Berkshire Eagle, 28 December 2014.

The Crazy Uncle Party,” Berkshire Eagle, 11 July 2011.

Current Committees

  • Global Studies

Course Syllabi

PSCI 204: Nationalism, Religion, and State Power
PSCI 266: The United States and Latin America
PSCI 238/ POEC 250/ ECON 299: Economic Liberalism and Its Critics
PSCI 248T: The USA in Comparative Perspective
PSCI 253:  The Tragedy of Venezuela
PSCI 349T: Cuba and the United States
PSCI 351: The New Left and Neoliberalism in Latin America
PSCI 352: Politics in Mexico
PSCI 420/440: The Power of the Purse and International Politics