Unpublished Papers

The Effect of Religious Affiliation and Church Attendance on State Fiscal Progressivity

Erika Dayle Siu, New York University School of Law

Abstract

This study finds that with minor exception, neither religious affiliation nor regular church attendance significantly affects state fiscal progressivity. Based on an examination of prevailing theological traditions within major religious groups, a viable hypothesis is that a state’s fiscal progressivity should correlate to its religious demographics to some extent, depending on the social justice beliefs of each religious group. If so, states with a greater percentage of Catholics and Jewish residents would have more fiscal progressivity; states with a greater percentage of Mainline Protestants and Historically Black Church members would also evidence fiscal progressivity but to a lesser extent; and states with a greater percentage of Evangelical Protestants and Mormons would have flat fiscal systems—evidencing neither progressivity nor regressivity. Further, at a more general level across all faith traditions, regular church/synagogue attendance should also positively affect fiscal progressivity. The empirical findings of this study show, however, that when controlling for other demographic variables that could affect the progressivity of a state’s fiscal structure, there is only slight evidence that higher Jewish populations increase fiscal progressivity. Other religious groups do not exhibit a statistically significant correlation to state fiscal progressivity. Possible reasons for these empirical findings include competing social priorities, competing theological values, incomplete acceptance of official religious beliefs, limited political options, and a lack of knowledge about tax structures in general. This Article concludes by offering recommendations for religious groups, government, and political parties to facilitate religious groups’ influence on state fiscal progressivity in their efforts to alleviate poverty.

Suggested Citation

Erika Dayle Siu. 2010. "The Effect of Religious Affiliation and Church Attendance on State Fiscal Progressivity" ExpressO
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/erika_siu/1

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