Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged

By Katherine S. Newman; Rourke L. O’Brien | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FOUR
Tax Traps and Regional
Poverty Regimes

The regional concentration of poverty poses serious problems for the whole country. But it remains for us to show that state tax codes bear any responsibility for the situation. Are high taxes on the poor related to social problems like excess mortality, outof-wedlock childbearing, crime, and low educational attainment? In this chapter we answer in the affirmative: controlling for a host of competing possibilities (the racial composition of each state, patterns of state spending, proportions of the state population below the poverty line, and so forth), tax liabilities assessed on poor households are related to state-level mortality, high school completion, the proportion of births to unmarried mothers, and rates of property and violent crime.

Our analysis employs state and year fixed-effects regression models that look within each state and ask, over time, whether changes in the tax liabilities of poor households affect outcomes such as mortality and crime. The virtue of the fixed-effects approach is that it enables us to net out anything unique to a particular state that could explain why its taxation level is high or

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Taxing the Poor: Doing Damage to the Truly Disadvantaged
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Tables xv
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xliii
  • Chapter One - The Evolution of Southern Tax Structures 1
  • Chapter Two - Barriers to Change Inertia, Supermajorities, and Constitutional Amendments 31
  • Chapter Three - The Geography of Poverty 57
  • Chapter Four - Tax Traps and Regional Poverty Regimes 86
  • Chapter Five - The Bottom Line 125
  • Conclusion - Are We Our Brothers’ Keepers? 149
  • Appendix I - How Many Lags of X? 163
  • Appendix II - Tables 175
  • Notes 183
  • Index 207
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