How Too Much Regulation Hurts America’s Poor

Adam Millsap

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. A lot has changed since that incredible event, including the size and scope of the federal government. From 1970 to 2017, the number of words in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) nearly tripled from 35 million to over 103 million. This increase in regulation reduced economic growth and lowered Americans’ incomes, and now new evidence shows that regulation has especially harmful effects on the country’s low-income residents.

Of course, not all regulation is bad. Regulations that focus on basic worker or consumer safety often have benefits that outweigh their costs. But many regulations on the books today go way beyond basic safety, which isn’t surprising considering the rapid growth of the CFR just mentioned. Such regulations protect established businesses by limiting entry or increase firms’ costs without providing an offsetting safety benefit, harming workers, customers, and potential entrepreneurs in the process.

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