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Inequality in Welfare Provision and Taxation between U.S. States

 

Description of Research Project:

U.S. states have increased their tax revenues as well the amount they spend on welfare programs in the past few decades. However, they differ in the generosity and amount of support they make available, creating new forms of inequality between states in the U.S. Researchers have found that there are there are economic, political and racial factors that explain some of these differences between states, but little or no research has looked at the relationship between how states raise money to fund programs and how much they actually spend on them.

The purpose of this project is to examine how tax policy is related to welfare spending in U.S. states. Specifically, this project focuses on whether states that rely more on sales taxes, which tend to be a larger burden for those lower in the income distribution, also provide fund social programs at higher levels. This is important as the combination of low welfare provision with high consumption taxes would be a particularly difficult burden on poor.

Description of Work that will be Assigned:

There is a variety of types of work available based on applicants’ interest and skills. The three main tasks available are 1) accessing data available from various sources online and performing data management and exploration tasks, 2) helping to identify historical policy changes in U.S. states and performing archival research using online news article databases and 3) searching for and reviewing literature from multiple disciplines on taxation and finance in U.S. states. I will work with research assistants to develop data management and analysis skills using R to the extent they would prefer to be most engaged in working with quantitative data. Assistants will spend a small amount of time reading academic literature on the topic at the beginning of the semester, and I will make more time available for them to do so later on if they would like.

Supervising Faculty Member: Greta Krippner

Graduate Student: Chalem Bolton

Contact Information: chbolt@umich.edu

Average Hours Per Week: 3 weekly per credit; flexible when students have more coursework

Range of Credits Students can Earn: 1-3

Number of Positions Available: 3