Regulatory Studies Program

Regulatory Studies Program

The Regulatory Studies Program works to improve the state of knowledge about regulations and their effects on society. The program identifies market-based solutions that achieve regulatory goals, improving the overall performance of the regulatory process, and acts as a resource to scholars and students who share the goal of improving regulatory policy.

Research

Robert Scharff, Sherzod Abdukadirov | Oct 16, 2014
As the battle to trim American waistlines heats up, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has joined in the fray with not one, but two rules aimed at improving the nation’s diet. The rules constitute the biggest change to the Nutrition Facts label in over two decades.
Michael L. Marlow | Oct 01, 2014
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently proposed expanding its regulatory authority over tobacco products to include the regulation of cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), and other novel tobacco products such as dissolvable products and gels. Cigars are the most commonly used among this group, though e-cigarette use is rapidly expanding.
Patrick McLaughlin | Sep 30, 2014
RegData 2.0 offers three simple and replicable measures of regulation, each created with custom-made text analysis software run on the annual Code of Federal Regulations. This sector brief presents these statistics for five different federal regulatory agencies that are relevant to the railroad industry: Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Pipelines and Hazardous Material Safety Administration.
Michael L. Marlow | Sep 03, 2014
Discussion of how nudging by governments differs from nudging by markets leads to the conclusion that market nudging is the more promising avenue of the two for helping citizens lose weight.
Thomas D. Hopkins, Benjamin Miller, Laura Stanley | Aug 26, 2014
Applying benefit-cost analysis in the White House regulatory oversight process served as a basic mission of the Council on Wage and Price Stability (CWPS) during its seven-year lifespan (1974–1981). This paper reviews that CWPS experience, which involved filing comments in over 300 proceedings at more than 25 federal regulatory agencies.
Courtney A. Collins | Aug 25, 2014
Since its inception, the education system in the United States has been structured in a very decentralized way. The federal government has historically played a limited role in public schools, leaving the majority of decisions to be made at the state and local level. The extent of federal involvement began to widen, however, in 1965 with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

Testimony & Comments

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.
Feler Bose | Oct 01, 2014
The proposed rule is promulgated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and recommends new requirements for trains transporting a large volume of Class 3 flammable liquids (mostly ethanol and Bakken crude).
James Broughel | Sep 02, 2014
This year’s report makes several important improvements over reports from previous years. However, there are still a number of ways in which this report can be made more useful if it is to be a meaningful representation to Congress and the American public of the effects of the regulatory system in the United States.
Michael L. Marlow | Jun 27, 2014
This public interest comment estimates the range of annual benefits (costs avoided) associated with e-cigarette use as $15.6 billion to $49.2 billion and that 2.4 million to 6.4 million smokers may potentially become ex-smokers by using e-cigarettes. Estimates are based on a range of quit rates from the current literature and assume all smokers interested in quitting use e-cigarettes. Even a fraction of estimated benefits (costs saved) are substantial. These estimates indicate the FDA is jeopardizing public health by not estimating benefits associated with e-cigarettes using data from readily available studies on their efficacy as harm-reduction tools.
Keith Hall | Apr 07, 2014
This comment addresses Environmental Protection Agency’s request for advice in “developing an ‘analytic blueprint’ of materials on the technical merits and challenges of using economy-wide models to evaluate the social costs, benefits, and economic impacts associated with EPA’s air regulations.” The agency plans to present these materials to a new Science Advisory Board (SAB) panel with “expertise in economy-wide modeling.”…
Jerry Brito | Apr 02, 2014
Online virtual currencies are nothing new. They have existed for decades—from World of Warcraft Gold to Facebook Credits to e-gold. Neither are online payments systems new. PayPal, Visa, and Western Union Pay are all examples. So what is it about Bitcoin that makes it unique? Bitcoin is the world’s first completely decentralized digital currency. Its decentralized nature results in lower transactions costs, making it particularly attractive to small businesses. It could also be an attractive electronic payments option for consumers, including the unbanked and underbanked. Risks include volatility and security, but these are not problems inherent in Bitcoin’s design.

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.
James Broughel | Jan 30, 2014
Members of the Science Advisory Board (SAB), thank you for taking the time to hear to my comments this morning. Today’s topic—how to measure the impact of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on low-income and minority citizens in the United States—is both timely and important. At the research center where I work, we have begun to explore the consequences of regulations on vulnerable populations. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of our findings and to contribute to this important discussion.
Richard Williams | Jul 08, 2012
The United States system of ensuring food safety (FS) is more than 100 years old and, until very recently, was the primary system designed to ensure FS. The system assumes that primarily federal regulators have the necessary knowledge to instruct food manufacturers on producing safe food, with both federal and state governments enforcing their respective regulations. While there have been notable successes in the last century — such as mandatory pasteurization for milk and other products, low acid canned food rules, and basic sanitation requirements — much of this progress was achieved in the first half of the 20th century. In the last 30 years, the incidence of foodborne disease has changed very little.
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…

Mercatus Regulatory Studies



Charts

Patrick McLaughlin | Oct 16, 2014
Simply counting executive orders, pages, or words can produce misleading statistics. In legal language, at least, the frequency with which restrictions occur can serve as a proxy for measuring the overall restrictiveness of text. Content matters.

Experts

Videos

Patrick McLaughlin | September 02, 2014
Senior Research Fellow Patrick McLaughlin demonstrates the growth of federal regulation in the United States since 1950 by stacking books from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Podcasts

Patrick McLaughlin, Michael Leland | August 12, 2014
In this episode, Patrick McLaughlin joins Mike Leland to discuss his new project, RegData, and how it can help measure the impact of regulations, like occupational licensing and those Uber and Lyft are confronting, in states.

Recent Events

Jerry Ellig, Ted Gayer, Keith Hall, John Leeth, Patrick McLaughlin, Matthew Mitchell, Hester Peirce, Richard Williams, Scott Jacobs, Scott O'Malia | November 13, 2012
Please join the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for a series of discussions grounded in academic research and practical experience on how and why the current regulatory process falls short of its purpose—and what can be done to improve regulation in the future.

Books

Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | Jan 23, 2014
Como la primera moneda digital descentralizada del mundo, Bitcoin tiene el potencial de revolucionar los sistemas de pago en línea de una manera que beneficia a los consumidores y las empresas. En lugar de utilizar un intermediario, como PayPal, o entregar información de tarjeta de crédito a un tercer partido para su verificación—ya que los dos incluyen cargos de transacción y otras restricciones— Bitcoin permite que los individuos paguen directamente entre sí para bienes o servicios.
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