Isaac William Martin

Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego
Chapter Member: San Diego SSN, California SSN
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About Isaac

Martin's research concerns the effects of tax policy design on inequality and on voters' willingness to pay for public goods. He has also conducted research on labor market policy and public postsecondary education. In addition to speaking and writing about his research for a public audience, he has testified before state and local government agencies, written policy reports for foundations and think tanks, and consulted with labor unions.


In the News

Isaac William Martin quoted on political engagement as a "status symbol" among the super rich by Daniel Strauss, "Why There Aren't More Koch-Style Billionaires in Politics" Talking Points Memo, September 3, 2014.
"Ronald Reagan: A Legacy of Unmet Promises," Isaac William Martin, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 6, 2011.
"The Legacy of Proposition 13," Isaac William Martin, Interview with Joanne Faryon, KPBS Television, March 29, 2010.
"The Impact of California’s Biggest Tax Revolt," Isaac William Martin, Interview with Maureen Cavanaugh, KPBS Radio’s “These Days”, February 23, 2010.
"Which Direction for the Welfare State?," Isaac William Martin, La vie des idées, March 6, 2009.
"Proposition 13 – 30 Years On," Isaac William Martin, Interview with Michael Krasny, KQED Radio’s “Forum”, June 9, 2008.


"Racial Context and Political Support for California School Taxes" (with Isaac William Martin). Social Science Quarterly (2020).

Employs panel regression models to a data set of California school districts. Tells that school boards were least likely to propose new parcel taxes where there was a high percentage of Latinx students or a large gap between the percentage of white students and the percentage of white residents 65 and older. 

"Who are the Foreclosed? A Statistical Portrait of America in Crisis" (with Christopher Niedt). Housing Policy Debate 23, no. 1 (2013): 159-176.
Describes how the average homeowner displaced by the mortgage foreclosure crisis resembles an otherwise average American in financial trouble, and many of these displaced homeowners have coped with the loss of their homes by moving in with friends or kin in problem-filled neighborhoods.
"Fiscal Protest in Thirteen Welfare States, 1980-1995" (with Nadav Gabay). Socio-Economic Review 11, no. 1 (2013): 107-130.
Shows that the greater the structural budget deficit a country has, the more protest it can expect against its fiscal policies, as citizens will often protest to defend customary entitlements to social benefits and low taxes.
Rich People’s Movements: Grassroots Campaigns to Untax the One Percent (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Details how, ever since the beginning of the twentieth century, a small minority of well-to-do Americans have fomented nonviolent rebellions to protest against the taxation of the rich. These movements happen in response to tax policy changes that are perceived to threaten private property rights, and despite the fact that rich people are a small and often unpopular minority, the activists can sometimes craft their own policy proposals to recruit surprising and effective coalitions.
"What We Talk about When We Talk about Taxes" (with Jeffrey L. Kidder). Symbolic Interaction 35, no. 2 (2012): 123-145.
Explains how the anti-tax talk of small-business owners in the American South has little to do with actual details of tax policy, and more to do with a perceived affront to the group dignity of people who see themselves as a hard-working middle class.
The Permanent Tax Revolt: How the Property Tax Transformed American Politics (Stanford University Press, 2008).
Tells the story of the property tax rebels of the 1970s who were protesting to defend informal tax breaks that had subsidized their retirement savings and sheltered them from the rising price of housing.
"Does School Finance Litigation Cause Taxpayer Revolt? Serrano and Proposition 13" Law and Society Review 40, no. 3 (2006): 525-557.
Argues that the rising price of housing, not court-ordered school finance equalization, was to blame for California voters’ rebellion against the property tax in the 1970s.