Public Provision of Service for the Elderly: An Empirical Analysis of County-Level Senior Service Property Tax Levies
Year of Publication
Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
Last year the baby boom generation began turning 60. Consequently, the number of senior citizens is expected to double by the year 2030. On average, a person reaching the age of 60 can expect to live an additional 22 years. (NCHS, 2003) Along with increased life expectancy comes a greater probability for chronic illness, physical impairment and loss of independence. Of those 85 and older, 55% will need some type of long-term care or personal assistance. (CBO, 2004)
A recent collaborative study, “The Maturing of America: Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population”, notes that less than half of local communities have begun to address the needs of an aging population.
The following research is an empirical analysis of Ohio’s experience levying county property taxes to provide local services for the elderly. Specifically, this study assesses the validity of two concerns raised by critics of senior service property taxes. First, that such levies allow the senior citizen population to redistribute tax money toward their own self-interests. Second, that senior service levies will compete with local education levies and have an adverse effect on local per pupil revenue. Practitioners believe that the public exhibits a general willingness to pay for the provision of senior services and that the key determinant to levy passage is effective campaigning.
There are a variety of papers published by advocates of Ohio’s senior service property tax levies. These papers provide extensive overviews of the local services provided by the levies, instructions on setting up campaigns, service outcome measures, and implementation designs. But, there is no empirical analysis to assess determinants to levy passage or to measure the validity of critics and practitioner’s suspicions. Drawing largely on education levy literature to design hypothesis models, this research provides such an empirical analysis.
Through regression analysis and two hypothesis models, my results conclude that critics concerns are unfounded. The proportion of senior citizens appears not to have a statistically significant and positive effect on the percent voting ‘yes’. In addition, the proportion of senior citizens and the presence of a senior service levy have a statistically significant and positive impact on local per pupil revenue.
There are five states that have local level property taxes to support senior services. This research suggests that in Ohio, critics concerns are unsubstantiated and that practitioners may be correct in assuming a general willingness to pay. To provide a more generalizable assessment of these findings further research is warranted.
Ramsey, Brigitte Blom, "Public Provision of Service for the Elderly: An Empirical Analysis of County-Level Senior Service Property Tax Levies" (2007). MPA/MPP/MPFM Capstone Projects. 175.
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