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2010 Wildavsky Forum for Public Policy: Taxing the Poor: The Role of Consumption Taxes in Regional Poverty Regimes

Katherine Newman, Princeton Univeristy

Event: 2010 Wildavsky Forum - Professor Katherine Newman

Date: April 1, 2010 Duration: 85 minutes

We examine the strange history of state and local tax policy and then ask what difference it has made and is making now for the poor in different regions of the country. We will explore the ways in which depressing the income of poor households through taxation contributes to early mortality, lower educational attainment, out of wedlock childbearing, and higher crime. Finally, the question of what regressive states are losing in the form of human capital or bearing in the way of health costs and incarceration must be considered, at the same time that we come to grips with what regressive taxation at the state and local level costs the rest of the country.

Speaker: Katherine S. Newman is the Malcolm Forbes Class of 1941 Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs and the Director of the Institute for International and Regional Studies at Princeton University. Formerly the Dean of Social Science at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Malcolm Wiener Professor of Urban Studies in the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Newman is the author of nine books on topics ranging from urban poverty to middle class economic insecurity to school violence. Her most recent book (in collaboration with Elisabeth Jacobs) is Who Cares? Public Ambivalence and Government Activism from the New Deal to the Second Gilded Age (Princeton University Press, 2010), a historical analysis of public opinion toward government intervention on behalf of the poor. Newman has won a number of awards, including the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Prize and the Hillman Book Award, and appears frequently on public radio and television. Her current work on “Taxing the Poor” is in collaboration with Rourke O'Brien, a doctoral candidate in sociology and social policy at Princeton University and non-resident Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.