Tax Comparisons:


1681 Mean Tax Ratio 1681 Median Tax Ratio
Pro-Parris 54.37 .86 Pro-Parris 39.00 .76
Anti-Parris 62.89 Anti-Parris 51.00
1690 Mean Tax Ratio 1690 Median Tax Ratio
Pro-Parris 14.76 .93 Pro-Parris 14.00 1.00
Anti-Parris 15.82 Anti-Parris 14.00
Pro- and Anti-Parris Tax Ratios 1681-1690

By comparing summary statistics for different years, it is possible to suggest whether groups were advancing or declining in wealth. But one cannot simply examine whether a group's mean or median tax rose or fell in the period between two tax lists. The village raised different amounts of money for its church; in years when expenses were great, as in 1681, residents were expected to pay considerably more than in normal years.  Therefore, a rise or fall in a group's mean and median tax between 1681 and 1690 does not necessarily mean that its condition changed since everyone was taxed differently.  To control for changes in the quantity of taxes levied in different years, it is necessary to determine the ratio of taxes paid by one group relative to another. By comparing their relative standing in different years, changes in relationship can be established. Of course, the data is imperfect: each tax lists includes only a portion of those who signed the two 1695 petitions; moreover, the group of petitioners on one list is not the same as on the other. Nevertheless, the results are suggestive.

As the chart shows, the ratio of both mean and median taxes of the pro-Parris group to the anti-Parris group drew closer together between 1681 and 1690. In 1690, just prior to the witchcraft outbreak, the average pro-Parris tax had risen to better than 90 percent of the anti-Parris average. Their median tax actually equaled that of their opponents. The comparisons do not suggest that in the period leading up to the outbreak, the supporters of the witch hunt were declining, at least relative to the anti-Parris faction. Just the reverse.

Users can also calculate ratios comparing the average and median taxes of the pro-Parris and anti-Parris factions to that of the entire Salem Village community. These calculations also provide little support for the idea that the pro-Parris faction was declining or that the anti-Parris faction was advancing in their economic fortunes during the years prior to 1692. Indeed, the median ratio results suggest that witchcraft supporters were more upwardly mobile than the opposition.

Group data are suggestive about economic trends, but how did individual members of the pro- and anti-Parris factions fare during the decade of the 1690s? Download the Tax Comparisons Data Set, and click Next.