Charting Regulation

Much of the work I do is in the area of regulation. It is always a challenge to convey how much the regulatory state has grown (yes, I know, we can count the pages in the Federal Register). Two scholars as the Mercatus Center (Patrick McLaughlin and Omar Al-Ubaydli) have developed RegData, a wonderful tool for measuring the size and scope of the regulatory state. The updated version of the program (currently in beta) allows one to chart the growth in regulatory restrictions between 1997 and 2012. For example, here is the chart representing the growth of regulations on an economy wide basis:

regData-number-of_restrictions

One can also examine regulations on specific industries and compare industries. For example, here is a chart on the growth of restrictions in (1) Primary and Secondary Education and (2) Scientific Research and Development Services.

regData-growth-of_industry_regulation_(%_relative_to_1997)

As you will note, the charts do not include a legend—a flaw that I hope can be remedied. Here is a simple question on the above chart: which line represents education and which line represents scientific research and development? Hint: in one of these two sectors, the US a world leader. In the the other, it is a laggard. I wonder if we could move toward developing some testable hypotheses?

For a discussion of RegData 2.0, you can see a piece by Patrick McLaughlin at The Hill.

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