Jerry Ellig

Jerry Ellig is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a former assistant professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in the federal regulatory process, economic regulation, and telecommunications regulation.

Ellig has published numerous articles on government regulation and business management in both scholarly and popular periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Barron’s, the Washington Post, Regulation & Governance, Risk Analysis, Administrative Law Review, Journal of Regulatory Economics, and the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics. His most recent book, coauthored with his Mercatus colleagues Maurice McTigue and Henry Wray, is Government Performance and Results: An Evaluation of GPRA’s First Decade.

Previously, Ellig was deputy director and acting director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He also served as senior economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress.

Ellig received his MA and PhD in economics from George Mason University and his BA in economics from Xavier University.

Published Research

Jerry Ellig, Christopher J. Conover | Nov 18, 2014
Elected leaders delegate rulemaking to federal agencies, then seek to influence rulemaking through top-down directives and statutory deadlines. This paper documents an unintended consequence of these control strategies: they reduce regulatory agencies’ ability and incentive to conduct high-quality economic analysis to inform their decisions.
Jerry Ellig | Jul 23, 2013
For nearly four decades, presidential administrations have required executive branch regulatory agencies to identify the problem they are trying to address and assess its significance, examine a wide range of alternative solutions, estimate the costs and benefits of the alternatives, and regulate only when the benefits justify the costs. In 1993, President Clinton’s Executive Order 12866 laid out the fundamental requirements that have governed regulatory analysis and review ever since. In January 2011, President Obama’s Executive Order 13563 reaffirmed the principles and processes articulated in the Clinton executive order:…
Patrick McLaughlin, Jerry Ellig, John Morrall | Jun 01, 2013
This paper compares the quality and use of regulatory analysis accompanying economically significant regulations proposed by US executive branch agencies in 2008, 2009, and 2010. We find that the quality of regulatory analysis is generally low, but varies widely.
Jerry Ellig, Alan E. Wiseman | Apr 18, 2013
In the wake of Granholm v. Heald, numerous states passed new laws to regulate interstate direct shipment of alcohol that would seem to contradict the spirit, if not the explicit content, of the Commerce Clause. We build on existing scholarship analyzing the empirical impacts of direct shipment barriers to identify how these new laws are likely to influence local market conditions. Drawing on new data that measure posted winery prices and aggregate production levels in 2002 and 2004, we demonstrate how many of these new laws would be expected to effectively diminish, if not altogether remove, the benefits that would normally accrue to consumers from legalized interstate direct shipment of wine. Although empirical analysis of price effects currently plays a very limited role in dormant Commerce Clause cases, our analysis suggests how price data can be used to ascertain whether a state restriction constitutes discrimination against out-of-state economic interests.

Working Papers

Jerry Ellig, Richard Williams | Aug 13, 2014
The number of regulations and their economic impact continue to grow. Yet the quality and use of economic analysis to inform regulatory decisions falls far short of the standards enunciated in executive orders governing regulatory analysis and review.
Hester Peirce, Jerry Ellig | Mar 31, 2014
SEC Regulatory Analysis: “A Long Way to Go and a Short Time to Get There”…
Patrick McLaughlin, Jerry Ellig, Dima Yazji Shamoun | Mar 18, 2014
As the quantity and scope of regulations in Florida grow, so does the degree to which they affect the economy. In these circumstances, a little reform to the process of creating regulations can go a long way toward crafting an environment that fosters competitiveness and economic efficiency.
Jerry Ellig, Rosemarie Fike | Jul 30, 2013
Numerous regulatory reform proposals would require federal agencies to conduct more thorough analysis of proposed regulations or expand the resources and influence of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which currently reviews executive branch regulations. We employ data on variation in current administrative procedures to assess the likely effects of proposed regulatory process reforms on the quality and use of regulatory impact analysis (RIA). Many specific types of activity by agencies and OIRA are correlated with higher quality analysis and greater use of analysis in decisions, and the effects are relatively large. Our results suggest that greater use of Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemakings for major regulations, formal hearings for important rules, articulation of retrospective review plans at the time regulations are issued, and expansion of OIRA’s resources and role may improve the quality and use of RIAs.


Policy Briefs

Jerry Ellig, Sherzod Abdukadirov | Jan 27, 2015
A research team from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University has assessed the quality and use of regulatory analysis accompanying every economically significant, prescriptive regulation proposed by executive branch regulatory agencies between 2008 and 2012.
Jerry Ellig, Jesse Martinez | Jan 20, 2015
Dealers wasted no time petitioning Congress to reverse the planned dealer terminations. The 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3288) included a provision, Section 747, which provided the opportunity for “covered dealerships” to reacquire franchises terminated on or before April 29, 2009 through an arbitration process. The provision affected all 2,789 dealerships slated for termination; however, the total count of dealers who decided to file paperwork to enter the process was 1,575. Of the cases that went to hearings, arbitrators allowed the manufacturers to close 111 dealerships and ruled in favor of 55 dealers. The other cases were settled or withdrawn.
Jerry Ellig | Jan 15, 2015
On the eve of its abolition in 1981, the Council on Wage and Price Stability (CWPS) pointed out that regulations were often imposed without a clear understanding of the problem they were supposed to solve, a realistic examination of a range of options for solving the problem, and a benefit-cost analysis of each option.
Jerry Ellig, Richard Williams | Dec 12, 2014
Congress has a diverse array of proposed regulatory reforms vying for attention, from targeted reforms aimed at providing relief to small businesses to broadbased reforms of the rulemaking process. Setting priorities will be a challenge, but the common objective is clear: solving more problems at a lower cost with fewer regulations.

Testimony & Comments

Jerry Ellig | Feb 25, 2015
Debates over regulatory process reform often take a distinctly partisan tone. But the fundamental conflict in the debate over regulatory process reform is not Republicans versus Democrats, liberals versus conservatives, or even business versus the public. It’s knowledge versus ignorance. Decision makers should choose knowledge over ignorance.
Jerry Ellig | Oct 06, 2014
The federal government’s own tips for submitting effective comments in regulatory proceedings note, “A constructive, information-rich comment that clearly communicates and supports its claims is more likely to have an impact on regulatory decision-making.” This guide explains how to prepare a comment on a proposed regulation, using economic analysis that supports each claim.
Jerry Ellig | Jun 26, 2013
Unfortunately, agencies’ Regulatory Impact Analyses are not nearly as informative as they ought to be, and there is often scant evidence that agencies utilized the analysis in decision making. These problems have persisted through multiple administrations of both political parties. The problem is institutional, not partisan or personal. Further improvement in the quality and use of Regulatory Impact Analysis will likely occur only as a result of legislative reform of the regulatory process. To achieve improvement, all agencies should be required to conduct thorough and objective Regulatory Impact Analysis for major regulations and to explain how the results of the analysis informed their decisions.
Jerry Brito, Jerry Ellig | Apr 15, 2011
Jerry Brito and Jerry Ellig submitted a Public Interest Comment on the Connect America Fund.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Jerry Ellig | Mar 20, 2014
Jerry Ellig's presents arguments for improved regulatory impact analysis at the College of Charleston.
Jerry Ellig | Jan 14, 2010
Jerry Ellig participated in panel discussion before Texas policy makers in Austin, Texas at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Policy Orientation on the future of the Texas Public Utility…
Jerry Ellig | Nov 05, 2009
Jerry Ellig was invited to give a lecture at Pepperdine University about the future of regulations in the federal government.
Jerry Ellig | May 28, 2009
Jerry Ellig presents before the Department of Energy, Office of Health, Safety and Security in the Visiting Speakers Program about regulation in high reliability organizations, such as…

Expert Commentary

Feb 10, 2015

Recently, the House of Representatives passed the “Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act.” While the fate of this particular piece of legislation is uncertain, it contains several measures to improve the quality of agency regulatory analysis that ought to find a home in any comprehensive regulatory reform.
Jan 19, 2015

U.S. automobile sales at the end of 2014 hit their highest level since the first quarter of 2006, according to data compiled from industry analysis source Wards Auto. While auto sales have climbed back to pre-recession levels, another aspect of the industry has continued to expand as well: The number of laws that protect auto dealers from competition.
Dec 12, 2014

Our current regulatory system continues to produce ineffective and expensive rules, because we’ve failed to tackle the core cause of poor regulations. Our end goal is solving more problems at a lower cost, and this can be achieved through methodical analysis and transparent decision making. With a foundation of statutory analysis standards for all regulators, we can build a better regulatory system.
Nov 10, 2014

Now that the midterm elections have confirmed two more years of divided government, speculation runs rampant as to how the president will use his vaunted pen to enact his agenda via regulations. The more ominous danger, however, is not a regulatory surge after this election, but the tsunami that could occur after the presidential election in 2016.


Jerry Ellig


Jerry Ellig, Maurice P. McTigue, Henry Wray | Sep 08, 2011
Summarizing the lessons learned from 10 years of research that evaluated the performance reports produced by federal agencies, the book assesses how the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) has affected the quality of agency performance reporting.


Jerry Ellig | September 17, 2013
The scope and number of regulations continues to grow, but proof that problems are being solved remains elusive. Several reform efforts are focusing on ways to improve economic analysis so that agencies can make better decisions about when and how to use regulation for problem-solving. New research indicates several reforms that could have a positive impact.
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