We analyze the spread of use-value assessment (UVA) programs applied to agricultural and rural land for property tax purposes across the 50 states. Taxing such land on the basis of its current use in agriculture rather than its full market value can confer significant property tax reductions on owners of the land. Effects are often substantial for land near large urban areas. Using a time-to-event model, we find, as others have posited, that a driving force behind the spread of UVA has been the secular trend toward urbanization across all 50 states.
The largest challenge in wireless telecommunications policy is transferring spectrum from inefficient legacy operators such as the federal government to bandwidth-hungry wireless broadband operators. Delay results in annual consumer welfare losses totaling hundreds of billions of dollars. One solution would be to auction overlay licenses to commercial bidders and give spectrum incumbents a clearing deadline.
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University synthesizes psychologists’ research on intrinsic motivations with research on the motives of entrepreneurs and shows that entrepreneurs are often motivated by a desire to succeed in competition with others. Consumer choice in markets provides validation to entrepreneurs about who provides the “best” product, so government intervention that results in disruption of choices in markets can make entrepreneurs who care about mastery worse off and harm economic growth.
The FDA has been charged by the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) with improving food safety in the United States. The four large regulations analyzed in this paper do not appear able to accomplish that mission. Part of the reason for this failure is that Congress has narrowly prescribed some of the reforms that must be in these regulations.
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University finds that regulations intended to improve the quality of child care often focus on easily observable measures, such as group sizes or child–staff ratios, that do not necessarily affect the quality of care but do increase the cost of care. These regulations can have unintended consequences, including increasing the cost of child care while decreasing the wages of child care workers. Eliminating regulatory standards that do not affect the quality of care while focusing on those that do, such as teacher training, will improve the quality of child care while making it more affordable to low-income families.
This paper seeks to synthesize the available legal resources on active defense. It confronts the intertwined definitional, legal, and policy questions implicated in the active defense debate. The paper then proposes a legal framework to authorize active defenses subject to liability for third-party damages, an approach grounded in the technical and economic realities of the network security market.
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, law professors Jason Scott Johnston and Todd Zywicki provide an overview and critique of the CFPB’s report. The study criticizes the report using primarily evidence supplied by the report itself. The CFPB’s findings show that arbitration is relatively fair and successful at resolving a range of disputes between consumers and providers of consumer financial products, and that regulatory efforts to limit the use of arbitration will likely leave consumers worse off.
In a new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Dima Yazji Shamoun and toxicologist Edward J. Calabrese show that shifting the debate to process objectivity would allow better evaluation of risk assessments. In doing so, the paper draws from the government’s own guidance for best practices for performing risk assessments. This paper provides a crucial first step toward enabling those who monitor regulatory agencies to hold them to those practices.
A new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University explores several concrete examples of how technology is helping to reduce market deficiencies, dealing a blow to demands for government regulation. The political pressure to increase regulations in fields as diverse as environmental policy and consumer protection ignores the evidence that advancing technology is providing customers and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to solve problems without government intervention.
An important concern to the efficiency of public finance systems is that voters suffer from various “fiscal illusions” that can politicians can exploit to expand the public sector. This paper contributes evidence of this effect on a public finance system through the revenue elasticity hypothesis, which is a form of fiscal illusion in which voters confuse tax rates with tax burdens in the approval of public spending. The applied empirical setting is Virginia cities and counties from 2001 to 2011, where the timing of mass property reappraisals is exogenous but known to local policymakers in setting the annual budget.
Are all of the rules and regulations governing economic activity a product of central planning or legislation? Edward Stringham argues that much of what is orderly in the economy can actually be attributed to governing mechanisms devised and enforced by private groups and individuals.
Luigi Zingales, one of the world’s foremost thinkers on financial development and capitalism, will join Tyler Cowen for a wide-ranging, intellectual dialogue as part of the "Conversations with Tyler" series.
This book presents 17 oral histories of Hurricane Katrina survivors from four diverse New Orleans communities. The oral histories explore how these individuals, families, and communities began to rebuild after the devastation.