Lack of government research funding biases policy to favor special interests

By Christopher Cotton, Queen’s University

U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump’s pick for budget director, has attracted attention for asking, “Do we really need government funded research at all?” Although it’s not clear whether Mr. Mulvaney is against all government research funding, the question raises concerns of academics and proponents of evidence based policymaking.

Coauthor Arnaud Dellis (UQAM) and I speak to the impact of government funded research (or the lack thereof) in a research article (ungated) published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.Read More »

The Impact of Post-Secondary Funding on the Educational Attainment of Indigenous Students in Canada

By Maggie Jones, JDI Student Fellow, Queen’s University

In 1980, Canadian men with a bachelor’s degree earned approximately 32% more than those with a high school degree. For women, the equivalent figure was 44%.  By 2005 the university to high school wage premium had increased to about 41% for men and 51% for women (see Figure 1).  The rise in the wage premium over this time period shows just how important post-secondary education has become at an individual level.

In a recent working paper, titled Student Aid and the Distribution of Educational Attainment, I examine the effects of providing post-secondary funding on educational choices in the context of a large program for Indigenous students in Canada. Read More »

Fiscal Policy as a Recession Fighter: Lessons from the Interwar Period

By Gregor Smith, Queen’s University

One of the legacies of the recession and slow growth in developed economies during the past decade has been a revived consensus that discretionary fiscal policy can be used to counteract recessions, especially at times of very low interest rates. Jason Furman, chair of the US Council of Economic Advisors, outlines the theory and evidence behind this revival.

These circumstances of slow growth and low interest rates remind one of the Great Depression, so it’s natural to ask what lessons for fiscal policy the interwar period holds. Unfortunately, a disadvantage of studying that time period is that the data are sparse. National accounts data are incomplete and are available only at an annual frequency. That makes it very difficult to isolate the “shocks” (unexpected changes in fiscal policy) that are used in modern statistical studies to measure the multiplier for government spending. But there is also an advantage of studying this time period: There is a rich diversity of international experiences both in the severity of depressions and in the stance of fiscal policy. That diversity should help isolate whether fiscal policy helped recovery or not.Read More »