Death and taxes: Child health and the state tax freedom race
Each year the Tax Foundation releases rankings of U.S. states on time to Tax Freedom, or the day that the average taxpayer has met their tax burden. The current analysis sought to contextualize the tax freedom day rankings, by examining the association between state tax burden and key indicators of child wellbeing. The 2009 measure of days to tax freedom by state was correlated with ten key indicators of child wellbeing from the Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT 2009 data. Each of the wellbeing indicators and the overall composite wellbeing rankings were also regressed on days to Tax Freedom and Gross State Product. As the days to tax freedom decrease, indicating a lighter tax burden, all of the following increase significantly -- the infant mortality rate, child and teen death rates, teen birth rate, rates of school dropout and disconnected youth, and numbers of children in poverty. These findings all held even after controlling for Gross State Product. Public attitudes and choices about paying taxes have important consequences for the health of children in our society. The broad appeal of Tax Freedom Day highlights a disconnect between the act of paying taxes and recognition of the benefits to children those taxes provide.
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