Policy debates often focus only on major decisions made in Washington, DC. But for many Americans, the decisions made much closer to home have just as large, if not larger, effects on day-to-day life. These nine economic facts highlight the important economic roles of state and local governments, emphasizing how their budgetary and regulatory decisions affect access to opportunity. Transportation and land-use policy receive particular attention given their large impacts on the patterns of economic activity.
Policymakers at the state and local levels tackle some of the toughest problems facing society. To make measurable progress in solving these problems, public policy needs to be effective, efficient, and evidence based. Justine Hastings of Brown University draws on her experiences founding Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL), a nonprofit research–policy partnership in Rhode Island that aims to make state policy more fact based and more effective through the creation of an integrated database of state administrative data and derived tables. She provides best practices for creating the database and using it effectively to derive policy insights.
High regional inequality is driven, in part, by local land-use regulations that prevent low- and middle-income workers from accessing high-productivity places. In this paper, Daniel Shoag of Harvard Kennedy School and Case Western Reserve University discusses the problems with current housing policies and their effects on economic growth and mobility. To remove these barriers, the author outlines local, state, and federal policy initiatives that can boost housing supply in booming parts of the country.
Two thirds of the jail population consist of defendants who have not been convicted. This paper characterizes key trends in pretrial detention and the bail system, examines the financial implications of bail for the typical household, and explores the costs and benefits of monetary bail and the private bail bonds industry.
The $700 billion U.S. intergovernmental grant system is often poorly targeted to areas that are struggling. Tracy Gordon proposes reforms to Medicaid and other programs that would make federal aid to states more targeted toward struggling areas and more responsive to economic shocks.
For a century, the progress our nation made toward realizing broadly shared economic growth gave our economy much of its unparalleled strength. However, for the last several decades, that progress has seemed to stall. On critical measures such as household income, poverty, employment rates, and life expectancy, there exist yawning persistent gaps between the best- and worst-performing communities. These conditions demand a reconsideration of place-based policies. The evidence-based proposals contained in this volume can help restore the conditions of inclusive growth that make it possible for individuals from any part of the country to benefit from economic opportunity.