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Decreasing congestion with driverless cars

January 17, 2017

Traffic is aggravating. Especially for San Francisco residents. According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute, traffic congestion in the San Francisco-Oakland CA area costs the average auto commuter 78 hours per year in extra travel time, $1,675 for their travel time delays, and an extra 33 gallons of gas compared to free-flow traffic conditions. That means […]

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Today’s public policies exacerbate our differences

January 3, 2017

The evidence that land-use regulations harm potential migrants keeps piling up. A recent paper in the Journal of Urban Economics finds that young workers (age 22 – 26) of average ability who enter the labor force in a large city (metropolitan areas with a population > 1.5 million) earn a wage premium equal 22.9% after […]

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Solving the Public Pension Crisis

December 13, 2016

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a public policy conference that brought together many scholars who study public pensions to share what they have learned from their research. The crisis – growing unfunded pension liabilities and resulting fiscal distress for states and municipalities – laid as the foundation of the day. Hosted by […]

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More labor market freedom means more labor force participation

December 8, 2016

The U.S. labor force participation (LFP) rate has yet to bounce back to its pre-recession level. Some of the decline is due to retiring baby-boomers but even the prime-age LFP rate, which only counts people age 25 – 54 and thus less affected by retirement, has not recovered. Economists and government officials are concerned about […]

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Eight years after the financial crisis: lessons from the most fiscally distressed cities

November 17, 2016

You’d think that eight years after the financial crisis, cities would have recovered. Instead, declining tax revenues following the economic downturn paired with growing liabilities have slowed recovery. Some cities exacerbated their situations with poor policy choices. Much could be learned by studying how city officials manage their finances in response to fiscal crises. Detroit […]

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What else can the government do for America’s poor?

October 30, 2016

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 welfare reforms, which has generated some discussion about poverty in the U.S. I recently spoke to a group of high school students on this topic and about what reforms, if any, should be made to our means-tested welfare programs. After reading several papers (e.g. here, here […]

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Fixing decades of fiscal distress in Scranton, PA

October 25, 2016

In new Mercatus research, Adam Millsap and I and unpack the causes for almost a quarter of a century of fiscal distress in Scranton, Pennsylvania and offer some recommendations for how the city might go forward. Since 1992, Scranton has been designated as a distressed municipality under Act 47, a law intended to help financially struggling […]

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Loyalton, CA and the cost of faulty actuarial assumptions

October 21, 2016

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the pension troubles facing the small town of Loyalton, California (population 769). Loyalton has seen little economic activity since its sawmill closed in 2001. In 2010 the city made a decision to exit Calpers saving the city $30,000. The City Council thought that the decision to exit would […]

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Women are driving recent increase in age 25-54 labor force participation

October 7, 2016

Josh Zumbrun from the WSJ posted some interesting labor market charts that use data from today’s September jobs report. The one that jumped out at me was the one below, which shows the prime-age (age 25-54) employment and labor force participation (LFP) rate. In a related tweet he notes that the 25 – 54 LFP […]

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Pension funding practices and investment risk

October 6, 2016

A recent paper by Donald J. Boyd and Yimeng Yin of The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY  investigates how public pension funding practices contribute to big funding gaps and the need for sudden contribution increases. This is a situation public sector plans find themselves in due to three reasons 1) muddling the […]

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