Julie Berry Cullen

Julie Berry Cullen

Speaker: Julie Berry Cullen, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of California, San Diego

Date: Friday, October 19, 2018
Time: 5:30 PM
Place: 125 Linfield Hall

Title: Political Alignment, Attitudes Toward Government and Tax Evasion

Sponsoring department: Agricultural Economics & Economics


Cullen will discuss research on the link between attitudes toward government and tax evasion. Cullen hypothesizes that taxpayers who feel that the government does not share their priorities will be more likely to rationalize cheating and underreport taxable income. Tax evasion can be viewed from this perspective as a modern form of tax resistance. Though most taxpayers have limited opportunities to resist by evading federal personal income taxes, the self-employed receive income that is only partially visible to the government. Cullen tests whether partisan individuals report less potentially hidden income when the President is from the opposing political party. She explores whether Republicans are more likely to evade under a Democrat regime, and vice versa for Democrats. In analyses that track partisan counties from before to after Presidential election turnover, she finds that moving out of political alignment significantly reduces tax compliance, suggesting that individuals who disapprove of government tax and spending policies evade more. This is cause for concern given the inefficiencies of evasion, yet also suggests that there may be scope for remedying evasion through simple interventions, such as information campaigns.

About the speaker:

Julie Berry Cullen is a Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Previously, she was a faculty member at the University of Michigan, a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar and held a visiting position at Northwestern University. She received her Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997 and her B.A. from Stanford University in 1989. Her primary field of research is public economics, with specializations in the economics of education, fiscal federalism and behavioral responses to taxation and social insurance. Her research has been published in leading journals such as Econometrica, Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Public Economics and Review of Economics and Statistics. She is currently a co-editor at the Journal of Public Economics, served as a co-editor at the Journal of Human Resources from 2007-2016, and has been on editorial boards at Education Finance and Policy, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy and Journal of Economic Literature.