A $15 minimum wage will excessively harm California’s poorest counties

March 30, 2016

Lawmakers in California are thinking about increasing the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. If it occurs it will be the latest in a series of increases in the minimum wage across the country, both at the city and state level. Increases in the minimum wage make it difficult for low-skill workers to find […]

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Exit, voice, and loyalty in cities

March 18, 2016

Economist Albert Hirschman’s 1970 book Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States presents a theory of how consumers express their dissatisfaction to firms and other organizations after a decline in product or service quality. In terms of interjurisdictional competition exit is demonstrated by migration: dissatisfied residents migrate to a community […]

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Where’s the growth?

March 1, 2016

In a famous Wendy’s commercial from 1984, three elderly women are examining a hamburger with a rather large bun when one of them asks “Where’s the beef?” in order to express her disappointment that the burger is all bun and no meat. When it comes to the economy growth is like the beef of a […]

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Economic freedom matters at the local level too

February 18, 2016

Since 1996 the Fraser Institute has published an annual economic freedom of the world index that ranks countries according to their level of economic freedom. They also publish an economic freedom of North America Index that ranks the US states, Canadian provinces, and Mexican provinces using similar data. Both of these studies have been used […]

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Ignoring the adverse effects of the minimum wage may cost taxpayers billions

February 4, 2016

Today the Obama administration issued a statement calling for a ‘First Job’ funding initiative to connect young Americans with jobs. The statement laments how difficult it is for young people to find employment and emphasizes how important a first jobs is for future career success: “After the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, the United […]

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Properly funding a defined benefit plan requires solid average returns and some luck

February 2, 2016

Saving for retirement is something most workers do – either on their own or through an employer – and most are aware that the rate of return on their retirement investment matters. For example, if I save $100 today and it earns 10% per year in interest for the next 20 years I will have […]

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City population dynamics since 1850

January 26, 2016

The reason why some cities grow and some cities shrink is a heavily debated topic in economics, sociology, urban planning, and public administration. In truth, there is no single reason why a city declines. Often exogenous factors – new modes of transportation, increased globalization, institutional changes, and federal policies – initiate the decline while subsequent […]

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Can historic districts dampen urban renewal?

January 20, 2016

Struggling cities in the Northeast and Midwest have been trying to revitalize their downtown neighborhoods for years. City officials have used taxpayer money to build stadiums, construct river walks, and lure employers with the hope that such actions will attract affluent, tax -paying residents back to the urban core. Often these strategies fail to deliver […]

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Are state lotteries good sources of revenue?

January 14, 2016

By Olivia Gonzalez and Adam A. Millsap With all the hype about the Powerball jackpot, we decided to look at the benefits and costs of state lotteries from the taxpayer’s perspective. The excitement around yesterday’s drawing is for good reason, with the jackpot reaching $1.5 billion – the largest thus far. But most taxpayers will […]

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We don’t need more federal infrastructure spending

January 6, 2016

Many of the presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle have expressed interest in fixing America’s infrastructure, including Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. All of them claim that America’s roads and bridges are crumbling and that more money, often in the form of tax increases, is needed before they fall into further […]

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