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  • Commentary posted November 29, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Is Trade with China a Factor in Rising Mortality among Middle-Age White Men?

    In the aftermath of a presidential election that brought intense scrutiny to white, working-class voters in small towns, a new working paper in economics seeks to explain how at least two symptoms of social decline–suicide and substance abuse–relate to trade with China. The authors, Federal Reserve economist Justin R. Pierce and Peter K. Schott of the Yale School of…

  • Issue Brief posted November 22, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Congress Should Not Let Concrete Block Growth

    Producers of concrete blocks have gone to Congress to get authorization for a new federal program to advertise and promote their product. If the authorization is passed and works as intended, it will increase the demand for concrete blocks, the price of construction, and the profits of block manufacturers, as well as lower the profits of other building material…

  • Backgrounder posted September 28, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Understanding the Data on Occupational Licensing

    The regulation of professionals by means of occupational licenses, certifications, and registration has spread over a large share of the U.S. workforce in recent decades. Even as policymakers are recommending a reduction in the extent of the regulations—a positive move overall—experts are recognizing how little is known about the extent of licensure in America. New data…

  • Commentary posted September 1, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Puerto Rico Oversight Board Members Specialize in Finance, Not Economic Reform

    President Barack Obama has appointed the seven members of the congressionally mandated oversight board for Puerto Rico. The board will have authority over the U.S. territory’s finances as Puerto Rico goes through a new bankruptcy proceeding created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, which the president signed this summer. The members’…

  • Backgrounder posted May 11, 2016 by Lindsey Burke, Salim Furth, Ph.D. Research Review: Universal Preschool May Do More Harm than Good

    Evidence continues to mount that government-funded preschool fails to fulfill the promises of its proponents. New studies of large-scale preschool programs in Quebec and Tennessee show that vastly expanding access to free or subsidized preschool may worsen behavioral and emotional outcomes. Even proponents of universal preschool admit that it does nothing to improve…

  • Issue Brief posted April 15, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Six Hidden Taxes

    Thousands of federal regulations raise the prices of goods and services that Americans buy. Just six of these regulations raise prices enough to cost the average American household $1,005 per year.[1] Consumers pay hidden taxes when they buy a new or used car, fill their gas tank, and pay for their groceries. According to most estimates, income growth for middle-class…

  • Issue Brief posted April 15, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Local Land-Use Reform Can Save Money and Raise Wages

    Americans who are struggling to pay their bills or to increase their standard of living would get a big lift if local governments around the country reduced the regulation of land use and strengthened individual property rights. Too many local governments have bought into the harmful ideas that cities and suburbs ought to be “planned” by experts and that new construction…

  • Commentary posted April 5, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Want to Fight Global Warming? Forget Fuel Economy Standards and Focus on Land Use.

    Having led and won the fight in the 1960s and ‘70s to reduce air pollution from automobiles, California's road regulators turned their sights on a more ambitious goal: curbing global warming at the tailpipe through fuel-economy standards. But powerful evidence shows that these standards are costly for consumers and have almost no impact on the environment. The federal…

  • Issue Brief posted April 1, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D., Rachel Greszler Draft House Legislation Falls Short of Priorities for Puerto Rico

    Congress should not lose sight of key conservative priorities as it considers whether (and how) to respond to the economic and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. The troubled territory has been a laboratory for progressive politics and crony capitalism for decades. Predictably, the government has smothered the private sector, and workers receive a lower share of income in…

  • Commentary posted March 14, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Fuel Economy Standards Hurt the Middle Class

    Presidential candidates from both parties have vowed to help the middle class in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, many of their ideas, such as higher tariffs and corporate welfare, would do more harm than good. Here's one idea that would actually help: Stop forcing automakers to resort to ever more extreme and expensive techniques to increase gas mileage. The…

  • Backgrounder posted March 4, 2016 by Salim Furth, Ph.D., David W. Kreutzer, Ph.D. Fuel Economy Standards Are a Costly Mistake

    The Obama Administration’s regulations intended to force very rapid increases in vehicle fuel economy are adding thousands of dollars to the prices of new cars. Vehicle prices are rising in ways that are consistent with the predictions of studies undertaken several years ago. It is likely that the regulations are adding at least $3,800 (perhaps much more) to the average…

  • Issue Brief posted December 29, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Hired Labor’s Share of Income Is Lowest in Puerto Rico

    A smaller share of total income goes to hired labor in Puerto Rico than in any state in the U.S. In Puerto Rico, hired workers take home 25 cents of every dollar in net private-sector income, the rest going to investors, proprietors, and the self-employed.[1] In the U.S. as a whole, employees earn 56 percent of private income. (There are more precise ways to calculate…

  • Commentary posted December 2, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Benefits to Sticking With the Framework for Puerto Rico’s Debt

    Puerto Rico appears to have avoided defaulting on the bond payments due Tuesday. The Economist argued this week that, “one way or another,” the U.S. government “will end up bailing out Puerto Rico.” But the editorial supports that conclusion with two factual errors. First, the editorial says that Puerto Rico’s “government owes $72 billion in debt.” The majority of…

  • Commentary posted November 30, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Common-sense reforms can save consumers serious cash

    The holiday season is fast upon us -- that time of year when Americans across the country gather 'round the warm glow of their computer screens and try to figure out how on earth they are going to balance their budgets. Political debates can seem a long way away when you're in a room alone with your credit card bill, but commonsense policy reforms at every level of…

  • Backgrounder posted November 23, 2015 by Salim Furth, Ph.D. Costly Mistakes: How Bad Policies Raise the Cost of Living

    Government policy mistakes raise the prices of the things that Americans buy. An average American household can expect to pay an extra $4,440 each year thanks to just 12 such policy mistakes that have large costs and few benefits. Local, state, and federal governments are all guilty of enforcing costly laws and regulations. At the federal level, the biggest costs come…