How do unions affect state spending and taxation?
Two interesting graphs from Barry Pump. The first looked into whether there's a clear correlation between union density and the progressivity of a state's tax system. There wasn't:
This next graph is slightly confusing: it's looking for a relationship between union density and social welfare spending, but it's designed such that a negative correlation -- so, a line sloping downward -- indicated a positive relationship between union density and social welfare spending. And as you can see, that's exactly what we've got:
"So there is prima facie evidence that unions may be more effective in their advocacy for how tax revenues are spent rather than the fairness of the tax burden," concludes Pump. I don't want to read too much into these two graphs, as all sorts of other factors could be driving the results (and the non-results). But the findings make sense to me: Republicans (and allied groups) place a very high priority on keeping taxes on the rich down, while Democrats (and allied groups) tend to place a high priority on keeping social spending on the poor up. So in states where unions are strong, Republicans may be putting their energies into beating back progressive tax proposals while unions and Democrats focus on pre-K education.
| February 25, 2011; 8:44 AM ET
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