Bringing finance inside the state: how income-contingent loans blur the boundaries between debt and tax

Gareth Bryant, Ben Spies-Butcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Income-contingent loans are increasingly used by governments around the world to finance the costs of higher education. We use the case of income-contingent loans to explore how states are bringing the architecture of financial markets inside the state, disrupting conventional understandings of marketisation that are linked to concepts of commodification. We argue that income-contingent loans are hybrid policy instruments that combine elements of a state-instituted tax and a market-negotiated debt. We understand this hybrid construction in terms of the actors and mechanisms characteristic of what Polanyi identified in patterns of ‘redistribution’ and ‘exchange’. We then follow the contested mutations of income-contingent loans in Australia, England and the United States along three axes of hybridity that produce a variegated landscape of higher education finance: determining debt, charging interest and enforcing repayment. Our analysis reveals how, as processes of marketisation internalise financial ways of calculating and organising, states are blurring the boundaries between debts and taxes, redirecting political contestation over commodification.

LanguageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Mar 2018

Fingerprint

debt
taxes
finance
loan
indebtedness
income
higher education
financial market
redistribution
mutation
education
market
tax
costs
cost

Keywords

  • financialisation
  • geographies of markets
  • Income-contingent loans
  • Polanyi
  • policy mobilities

Cite this

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Bringing finance inside the state : how income-contingent loans blur the boundaries between debt and tax. / Bryant, Gareth; Spies-Butcher, Ben.

In: Environment and Planning A, 16.03.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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