Understanding the Tax Revolt: Eight Explanations

David Lynn Lowery, Lee Sigelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Numerous explanations of the tax revolt have been offered since California's adoption of Proposition 13 in 1978. Unfortunately, many of these explanations remain untested or have been tested inappropriately, and the explanations are often jumbled together in a fashion that precludes theoretical clarity. We extract eight explanations from the literature, each of which assumes that the tax revolt is a systematic national phenomenon that is a function of individual-level social, economic, and political factors. Having tested these explanations by means of a discriminant analysis of data from the 1978 American National Election Study, we find little empirical corroboration for any of them. This leads us to consider two alternative research programs, one of which interprets the tax revolt within a symbolic politics framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-974
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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