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College of Social Sciences and Public Policy

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Journal Articles & Policy Papers

1. An Examination of the Former Centrally Planned Economies 25 Years After the Fall of Communism
This report analyzes the changes in economic freedom, political institutions, and performance of 25 former centrally planned (FCP) economies following the collapse of communism. The degree of economic freedom among these countries varied considerably. The FCP countries with higher levels of economic freedom in 2015 as measured by the Economic Freedom of the World summary ratings tended to grow more rapidly, achieve larger increases in international trade, and attract more foreign direct investment than their counterparts with less economic freedom. Differences among the FCP countries in the protection of civil liberties, democratic political institutions, and administration of government with less corruption are also identified and analyzed. A regression model of economic growth during 1995-2015 for 122 countries was developed and used to examine the determinants of growth and the performance of the FCP economies relative to high-income and other developing countries throughout the world. Regression analysis was also used to analyze the life satisfaction measure of the World Values Survey. The regression analysis indicates that economic freedom exerts a strong positive impact on both the growth of per capita GDP and the life satisfaction of individuals. Finally, the economic freedom area ratings were used to identify strengths and weaknesses of the FCP economies. Most of the FCP countries registered substantial increases in economic freedom in the areas of size of government, access to sound money, international trade, and regulation. But they have failed to improve their legal systems, and several FCP countries have even experienced recent deteriorations in this area. While the FCP countries achieved impressive growth and closed the income gap relative to high-income countries during 1995-2015, without improvements in the legal area, it is unlikely that this progress will continue. The addendum provides additional details for ten countries that have made the transition from communism to markets most successfully.

The key findings of this study and a complete version can be downloaded by clicking on the links below.

2. Extending the Reach of Research Universities
By E. Jason Baron, Shawn Kantor, and Alexander Whalley
In contrast to the observed convergence in incomes between high- and low-income areas throughout much of the 20th century, recent decades have seen an increased clustering of economic activity that has led to diverging fortunes of different places. This phenomenon has revived interest in place-based policies that seek to revitalize lagging communities. Perhaps due to the widely held perception that high-tech clusters around the United States owe much of their success to neighboring universities, establishing research universities in lagging communities is increasingly being considered as a potential place-based policy. Our policy proposal seeks to shed light on the potential role of research universities as anchor institutions for local economic development. After carefully analyzing data and reviewing the literature, we propose that instead of establishing a new research university, lagging communities should focus on transferring productivity-enhancing knowledge to their local employers from existing research universities near their regions. To help achieve this goal, we propose a regionally targeted expansion of the 1988 Manufacturing Extension Partnership program that would encompass a broader range of sectors.

The study can be downloaded by clicking the link below. This study was funded by The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.

3. Assessing the Effects of Local Impact Fees and Land-use Regulations on Workforce Housing in Florida
By Adam A. Millsap, Samuel Staley, and Vittorio Nastasi
Housing rents and home prices in many areas of the nation, including Florida, have increased much faster than the cost of construction since the 1990s, squeezing the household budgets of middle- and lower-income families. In this study we examine local impact fees and land-use regulations in several communities throughout southwest Florida and how they have contributed to higher housing costs there. We also discuss policies that can mitigate the upward pressure on housing prices.

The study can be downloaded by clicking the link below or clicking here.