Max Gallien

Max Gallien

Research Fellow

Max Gallien is a political scientist specialising in the politics of informal and illegal economies, the political economy of development and the modern politics of the Middle East and North Africa.

Max is an IDS Research Fellow in the governance cluster and with the International Centre for Taxation and Development (ICTD) where he leads the research programme on informality and taxation with Vanessa van den Boogaard, alongside the ICTD’s capacity building programme.

He recently completed his PhD, titled “Smugglers and States: Illegal Trade in the Political Settlements of North Africa” at the London School of Economics, where he taught on the political economy of international development. He also taught on the political economy of the Middle East at King’s College, and has been advising government departments and embassies in both the UK and North Africa.

Languages: German (native), English (fluent), French (advanced), and Arabic (advanced)



International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD)

The International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD) provides research evidence that supports developing countries in raising domestic revenues equitably and sustainably, in a manner that is conducive to pro-poor economic growth and good governance.



Three myths on smuggling and taxes

Few topics attract as many myths and misconceptions as smuggling. As an activity that is more frequently encountered through tabloids and crime dramas than academic research, public perceptions are often dramatised and outdated. At the same time, how we think about smuggling influences how we...

13 June 2024


Tax on mobile money transfers hits the poor hardest in Ghana

Ghana’s introduction of a 1.5% tax on mobile money transactions in May 2022 has been watched closely by policymakers across Africa. The proponents of the electronic transaction levy (e-levy) argue that taxes on mobile money — commonly referred to in Ghana as MoMo — present an opportunity...

Mike Rogan & 3 others

20 September 2022


Working Paper

The Price of Simplicity: Skewed and Regressive Taxation in Accra’s Informal Sector

ICTD Working Paper 195

The paper finds that the majority of informal sector operators of a 2,700 sample of informal enterprises in the Accra metropolitan area pay a range of taxes and fees, which together amount to a significant burden, especially for low earners.

13 June 2024

Working Paper

Measurement and Mirage: The Informal Sector Revisited

IDS Working Paper 599

Recent years have seen an increasing availability and usage of measurements of informal sectors as the basis of scholarship and policy advice on the causes and consequences of informality. This has created an impression of a consensus around a clearly conceptualised and operationalised object of...

29 January 2024

Working Paper

Mobile Money Taxation and Informal Workers: Evidence from Ghana’s E-Levy

ICTD Working Paper 146

The use of digital financial services, including money transfers and mobile money, have expanded widely in lower-income countries in the past decade; 47 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa (548 million) had a registered mobile money account in 2020, with 29 per cent of those...

Max Gallien
Max Gallien & 3 others

1 September 2023

Max Gallien’s recent work

Past Event

Book launch: Smugglers and States

We are thrilled to host the launch for the book Smugglers and States, with an introduction by its author Max Gallien, followed by a drinks reception. Watch now Smuggling is typically thought of as furtive and hidden, taking place under...

21 March 2024

Past Event

Book Launch: The Routledge Handbook of Smuggling

We are thrilled to officially launch the 'Routledge Handbook of Smuggling' with an introduction by its editors, some of its authors, and a discussion of key issues in the contemporary study of smuggling. Watch the video now Listen to the audio...

3 May 2022



The Governance research cluster works across a number of thematic areas that are focused on ensuring citizens are represented and governed fairly in a world of changing state authorities. Our work critically examines public authority and the institutions, networks and politics that shape it....