Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Social Work

Additional Affiliations

Brown School

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



A growing body of research suggests disposable income may be linked to child maltreatment. Changes in welfare receipt, the minimum wage, and gas prices have all been associated with changes in child maltreatment rates. The role of taxes, however, has not been explored. This dissertation addresses the gap by examining the effects of three types of state taxes on child maltreatment: the alcohol tax rate, the sales tax rate, and the income tax rate. A fixed-effects analysis of state-level panel data from 2000 to 2014 shows that increases (decreases) in alcohol tax rates predict decreases (increases) in rates of child abuse and neglect. Because alcohol use is often a factor in child maltreatment, alcohol taxes may indirectly reduce child maltreatment by raising the price of alcohol and decreasing alcohol consumption. There is a positive relation, on the other hand, between sales tax rates and child maltreatment rates. Due to their regressive nature, sales taxes may financially constrain lower-income families, indirectly leading to child maltreatment. Finally, income tax rates do not appear to be associated with child abuse or neglect, perhaps because low-income families are not usually subject to income taxes. Taken as a whole, the findings suggest that higher alcohol tax rates and lower sales tax rates might be effective policy tools for reducing rates of child maltreatment.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Derek S. Brown

Committee Members

Cheryl D. Block, Michael Sherraden, Patricia L. Kohl, Lamar Pierce,


Permanent URL:

Available for download on Thursday, December 15, 2118