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

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.
Robert J. Michaels | Dec 09, 2014
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Robert J. Michaels reviews possible economic rationales for compelling electricity users to spend more on efficiency than they otherwise would. The study shows that some benefit-cost tests that have been used to evaluate the Ohio programs are inappropriate and that other data purportedly showing SB 221’s success are far less clear than many believe.
Mark D. White | Dec 02, 2014
There are important reasons why using happiness to guide policymaking cannot work as promised. The term happiness covers many different concepts and means something different to different people.
Omar Ahmad Al-Ubaydli, Patrick McLaughlin | Nov 12, 2014
RegData is a new database that quantifies federal regulation. It analyzes the text of federal regulations to create novel and objective measures of the accumulation of regulations in the economy overall and across different industries in the United States. In addition, RegData measures the degree to which different groups of regulations, such as those from a particular agency, target specific industries.
Michael Lewyn, Kristoffer "Kip" Jackson | Oct 21, 2014
This paper addresses the following question: how frequently do cities use government regulation of land use to coerce environmentally friendly development? In particular, the paper focuses on minimum density requirements, maximum parking requirements, and laws requiring “green” building (usually buildings that include a variety of energy-conserving features). The article concludes that the first type of regulation is rare, while the latter two are somewhat more frequent.
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.

Testimony & Comments

Christopher Koopman, Scott Eastman | Dec 01, 2014
Focusing on outcomes, rather than outputs, would give theaters more freedom to adjust the amount of devices they need to purchase based on the number of disabled patrons they actually serve.
Ryan M. Yonk, Ken J. Sim, Josh DeFriez | Oct 31, 2014
The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a rule changing the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Under the status quo, whether or not a water body qualifies as jurisdictional “waters of the United States” is determined case-by-case and based on precedence, science, and case law.
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.

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

Kenneth Button | December 16, 2014
Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University Kenneth Button shares the story of how air cargo deregulation in the 1970s paved the way for low-cost, reliable overnight shipping, which in turn allowed for groundbreaking new e-commerce businesses like Amazon and eBay. These innovations enable everyone to get their presents on time for the holidays – almost as fast as delivery by Santa himself!

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, | 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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