Quantcast

Economic policies and institutions matter

February 3, 2017

Economists often talk about the important role institutions and policies play in generating economic growth. A new paper that examines the role of urban governance and city-level productivity provides some additional, indirect evidence that institutions and policies impact economic productivity at the local level. (The focus of the paper is how administrative fragmentation affects city-level […]

Read the full post →

Why the lack of labor mobility in the U.S. is a problem and how we can fix it

January 26, 2017

Many researchers have found evidence that mobility in the U.S. is declining. More specifically, it doesn’t appear that people move from places with weaker economies to places with stronger economies as consistently as they did in the past. Two sets of figures from a paper by Peter Ganong and Daniel Shoag succinctly show this decline […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →

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 […]

Read the full post →