IEI Insight: Less regulation of dentists can mean better oral health

This IEI Insight is provided by Maddi McConnaughhay, a Gail Werner-Robertson Fellow and author of a forthcoming paper on the impact of occupational licensing on dental health.

Occupational licensing impacts more than just the legal side of different practices in the United States. It has a significant impact on access to these services, along with control of the labor markets. This can have devastating impacts of the lives of the people in the United States as a side effect of the control of quality in care.

Occupational licensing is put in place to ensure the quality and safety of dental practices, but in the long-term it shrinks the labor market for dentists. Due to the decrease in the supply of labor, patients see an increase in the price paid for dental work. These economic effects have a significant negative impact on the dental health of the nation. States with more rigorous licensing regulations suffer from worse healthcare because it is not as easily attainable.

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Going Cashless: Benefits for the Poor?

I recently returned from a conference of the ABA Business Law society in Montreal, where I was joined by several pals (Erin Fonte, Jillian Friedman, and Denis Rice) to present on the topic of The Emerging Cashless Society. Movement away from paper money (or coins) to electronic payments is a global phenomenon. While other countries may be leading the United States in moving away from cash, the United States is not far behind.

This phenomenon is primarily a product of private ordering. People choose to transact business with credit cards, mobile payments, or other technologies such Pay-Pal or Dwolla rather than using currency. ( I like to use my Android Pay feature when I am at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. In fact, when the fellow ahead of me uses cash, I cannot help wondering if the young clerk is really thinking, “what are these green papers and why do they convey value”?) We like the convenience, as well as some of the additional services like fraud protection, dispute resolution, and airline miles that we get with other payment media, which cash cannot deliver. Continue reading Going Cashless: Benefits for the Poor?

IEI Insight: Common measure of income inequality seriously flawed

This IEI Insight is provided by Madelyn McGlynn, a Gail Werner-Robertson Fellow and author of a forthcoming paper on income inequality and the Gini Index.

Income inequality in America is growing quickly. Between the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon and presidential candidates debating solutions, this fact has started to creep into the popular consciousness and has sparked much concern. Income inequality is growing and this can be demonstrated mathematically. But what does that analysis really tell us?

According to Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, since 1973 the top ten percent of American incomes increased by about 30 percent. The bottom 50 percent of workers’ real income only rose by about five percent. This difference is significant, changes the dynamics of the American economy, and this inequality is not getting any better. Many studies have attempted to determine why this is happening. Researchers tend to conclude that income inequality is exacerbated by gaps in education, an aging labor force, and the presence of concentrated populations.

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IEI Insight: The (regulated) flow of alcohol in Nebraska

This IEI Insight is provided by Luke Buffington, a Gail Werner-Robertson Fellow and author of forthcoming papers on Nebraska liquor regulations and public choice challenges in education policy.

Following the end of prohibition in 1933 every state instituted some form of what has come to be known as the three-tier system for alcohol distribution. The system requires that all alcohol must go through a state-licensed, independent, third party distributor between the producer and the retail location. This has been combined with franchise laws, which give distributors in many states — including Nebraska — exclusive local contracts with producers that are very difficult to terminate. This legal regime certainly has some benefits, but it also has economic costs.

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