Are you an economics graduate student casting about for dissertation topics? I have a few ideas for you. As part of the rewriting of Freedom in the 50 States, I've been reviewing the economic literature on how various public policies affect consumer and producer surplus, deadweight loss, and so on. We use an estimate of … Continue reading Research Questions for Economics Graduate Students
Last week Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice would be suspending its adoption of state civil forfeiture cases through its "Equitable Sharing" program. To review, civil asset forfeiture is the procedure by which law enforcement seizes property suspected of having been associated with a crime, and then auctions it off and … Continue reading Understanding the Impact of Holder’s Asset Forfeiture Announcement
The new, book-length edition of Freedom in the 50 States: Index of Personal and Economic Freedom will be released on March 28 by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. In the days leading up to release, I will be "teasing" a few of the novel findings and methods from the study. Here at Pileus, … Continue reading Freedom in the 50 States Teaser #3: Weighting the Variables
1. I'm not a big fan of CNN but it occasionally produces an interesting piece. This one on a surrogate who rescued a baby with birth defects from the natural parents (or so she thought!) who wanted the baby aborted is a must-read and raises a lot of interesting questions about law and ethics. It also highlights how states are … Continue reading Pieces Worthy of Your Attention
What do big businesses and small businesses want from government? Pretty much the same thing.
The Institute for Justice has just released a new study of occupational licensing requirements in the 50 states and D.C. These requirements disproportionately harm low- and moderate-income people who are seeking to ply a trade. License to Work finds that Louisiana licenses 71 of the 102 occupations, more than any other state, followed by Arizona … Continue reading IJ Releases Occupational Licensing Study
Once upon a time, local governments accounted for the lion's share of economic policy-making in the United States. Before World War I, not only was the federal government's economic policy-making activity strictly limited to areas such as international trade, management of federal lands, trust-busting, and food and drug regulation, but state governments themselves were also … Continue reading Who Killed Local Autonomy in the U.S.?
I want to piggy-back here on Mark's great post on urban planning and the poor. I've been playing around with some state-level data on local land-use regulations and cost of living. The last decade in the U.S. has been one of very slow productivity growth. As a result, fast-growing states tend to be those with … Continue reading Land-Use Regulation and Growth
Noel Johnson, Matt Mitchell, and Steve Yamarik have a new working paper answering that question in the affirmative. They look at state fiscal and regulatory policies and find that Democrats generally like to increase taxes and spending when in control of state houses and Republicans do the reverse. But when states have tough balanced-budget requirements … Continue reading Do Politicians Regulate When They Can’t Spend?
Having taken on left-liberals in my last post, it's only fair to take a shot at the right too. Here's the Deseret News editorializing on why our recommendations for Utah are wrong: The report's authors are clear about their definition of freedom. "In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, … Continue reading How Do Conservative Paternalists Define Freedom?
Matt Yglesias throws some scorn the way of Freedom in the 50 States 2011: Reasonable people can disagree as to whether there’s more freedom in Los Angeles or Brooklyn, and there may be good reasons to move from either place to Sioux Falls, but obviously “for the freedom” is not one of those reasons. For … Continue reading How Do Libgressives Define Freedom?
I've just gotten back from a Cato Institute event discussing the new study, Freedom in the 50 States, with my coauthor William Ruger, John Samples, and Michael Barone. I'll post the video when it's available. The Mercatus site for the study allows you to download the study and to use a calculator to see how … Continue reading Freedom in the 50 States
Not long after the ratification of the Constitution, Madison came to have serious doubts about his former Federalist friends. Particularly, he came to suspect the sincerity of many who had asserted that the new government would possess only those powers specifically delegated to it. The first disappointment came with Hamilton’s championing of the incorporation of … Continue reading Interposition:Part Five: Assuming Powers from National Bank to Seditious Libel
At The Monkey Cage, Andrew Gelman takes issue with my post on union density and tax collections by state. I argued that states with higher percentages of workers covered by collective-bargaining contracts have higher tax collections as a percentage of personal income, and that the relationship is probably causal. Gelman argues that it is inappropriate … Continue reading Unionization and Taxes, Part Two
One of the purposes of "right to work" legislation, currently being debated in Indiana, New Hampshire, and other states, is to reduce the percentage of the workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements. Leaving aside the ethics of collective bargaining as practiced in the U.S. today, what are the political and economic consequences? Since unions donate … Continue reading More Unionized States Have Higher Taxes
At Volokh, Ilya Somin presents the evidence that people vote for economic freedom with their feet internationally and domestically. Pileus on inter-state migration here. Update: Somin has more on this issue here. And of course, please feel free to examine the original study comparing the states cited by both Eric Crampton and Somin.
At the NY Times' Economix blog, Ed Glaeser takes up explanations for the relative population growth enjoyed by Texas, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada, compared to relative decline in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. If we ignore international migration, which tends to increase the population of Mexican border states especially, and natural increase, then the … Continue reading Taxation, Regulation, and Migration
Clearly, the recession caused state revenues to fall short of projections, opening up budget deficits. However, some states dealt with more serious fiscal problems than others. California's, New York's, and Illinois' woes have been in the news quite a bit lately. A new paper by Matt Mitchell at the Mercatus Center finds that states with … Continue reading What Caused the State Budget Gaps? UPDATED
To test the political influence of libertarians, I model state respect for individual freedom as a function of libertarian constituency, liberal constituency, political institutions, and some demographic controls. All my hypotheses are confirmed, and most interestingly, we see that states with more libertarians are freer.
Controlling for everything else, turnout actually does not predict Ron Paul's vote share, but the results demonstrate that Paul did much better in caucuses than primaries and after McCain had clinched. Now that we have estimated the effects of electoral institutions, we can adjust Ron Paul's vote shares in each state accordingly and come up with a prediction of just how "pro-Ron Paul" each state was.