Isaac William Martin

Isaac William Martin

Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, University of California-San Diego
Chapter Member: San Diego SSN
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About Isaac

Martin is an expert on California taxation, and is the author of numerous books and articles on housing policy, municipal taxation, and the causes of inequality. Many of his writings focus on the question of why some public policies prove to be durable, while some otherwise sound policies generate backlash that may render them ineffective. He has served as the founding chair of the department of Urban Studies and Planning at UC San Diego.


In the News

Quoted by Daniel Strauss in "Why There Aren't More Koch-Style Billionaires in Politics," Talking Points Memo, September 3, 2014.
Opinion: "Ronald Reagan: A Legacy of Unmet Promises," Isaac William Martin, San Diego Union-Tribune, February 6, 2011.
Interviewed in "The Legacy of Proposition 13," KPBS Television, March 29, 2010.
Interviewed in "The Impact of California’s Biggest Tax Revolt," KPBS Radio’s “These Days”, February 23, 2010.
Opinion: "Which Direction for the Welfare State?," Isaac William Martin, La vie des idées, March 6, 2009.
Interviewed in "Proposition 13 – 30 Years On," KQED Radio’s “Forum”, June 9, 2008.


"Racial Context and Political Support for California School Taxes" (with Jennifer M. Nations). 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. 

"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.
"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.
"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.