Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Revisiting Liberals and Tax Paying

In a post last month we asked, "Are Liberals Less Inclined to Pay Their Taxes". In a post last week, the blogger Audacious Epigone drew on data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to address this question, "Liberals and tax cheating" (Hat tip: Aaron Edelheit). Excerpt:

With the embarrassing number of hopeful Obama appointments running into tax cheating problems (the latest being Ron Kirk), it's natural to wonder if evasion by high profile leftists is illustrative of a real world trend, or just a string of unfortunate anecdotes.

The GSS provides some relief for that wonder. It provides the results for 2,418 people queried on whether or not cheating on taxes is wrong, by political orientation. The first graphic from the GSS shows the distribution of responses. The second graph shows the mean tax compliance score, computed by designating "not wrong" as 1, "a bit wrong" as 2, "wrong" as 3, and "seriously wrong" as 4, and then averaging the responses for each of the seven categories of political orientation (click for higher resolution).

Strong Lib2.70
Weak Lib3.00
Weak Con3.14
Strong Con3.27

The standard deviation for the dataset is .76, so the difference between self-described conservatives and extreme liberals is nearly one full SD. Amalgamating the responses into three categories yields one-third a SD between liberals and conservatives:


Liberals do not consider cheating on taxes to be as morally problematic as conservatives do. This presents an obvious moral quandary of its own, as, putatively less surprisingly, liberals are more likely than conservatives are to favor greater amounts of taxation and wealth redistribution.

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