Is Human Trafficking the Dark Side of Economic Freedom?

March, 2016

Economic freedom has increased living standards worldwide. Concurrent with such gains are rising concerns about potential human costs associated with free markets. This paper uses data on human trafficking and anti-trafficking policies, in conjunction with a measure of economic freedom, to examine whether free markets exacerbate or attenuate the incidence of human trafficking and policies designed to combat it. We do not find evidence suggesting that economic freedom is associated with human trafficking. In addition, our results suggest that economically free countries are more likely to enact and enforce policies to fight human trafficking.

Does Immigration Impact Institutions?

April, 2015

The economics literature generally finds a positive, but small, gain in income to native-born populations from immigrants and potentially large gains in world incomes. But immigrants can also impact a recipient nation’s institutions. A growing empirical literature supports the importance of strong private property rights, a rule of law, and an environment of economic freedom for promoting long-run prosperity. But little is known about how immigration impacts these institutions. This paper empirically examines how immigration impacts a nation’s policies and institutions. We find no evidence of negative and some evidence of positive impacts in institutional quality as a result of immigration.

What America's Decline in Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity

April, 2015

The United States’ tepid recovery from the 2008 financial crisis is raising concerns about the future of the American economy. Entrepreneurship—the great driver of widespread prosperity and economic growth—is on the wane. Small business start-ups are down, large corporations’ cash hoards are up, and innovation is threatened as a result.

Why? The most likely culprit is the decline, especially since 2008, of economic freedom in America. The United States is today only the ninth freest nation in the developed world, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2014 Annual Report. If the United States were a smaller and less iconic nation, this decline would be less troubling. But given America’s size and historical role in the global economy, the current outpouring of regulations, taxes, and fiscal and monetary irresponsibility from Washington throttle not only the US economy, but the world economy as well. Everyone is made poorer.

The essays in this volume explore this timely issue. Anyone concerned about the current economic malaise will find in these pages a compelling explanation for our troubles and guideposts for reinvigorating economic freedom and entrepreneurship in America and, by extension, the rest of the world.