Policy Reports

Shaping a Legacy: Using a Public Choice Framework to Analyze the North Dakota Legacy Fund
By Ryan M. Yonk, with Kole Nichols, Colby Warzecha and Caden Wurzbacher (April 2021)

In this policy paper, we apply a public choice framework using political and economic analysis to study the North Dakota Legacy Fund. We identify three categories of proposals related to the Legacy Fund and examine the institutional factors that are likely to guide politicians, bureaucrats, voters, and special interests. After reviewing the history of the North Dakota Legacy Fund and other sovereign wealth funds, we provide an overview of the institutional framework surrounding the fund. Finally, we suggest evaluating different approaches by considering a unified vision to guide the use of the Legacy Fund.

Understanding the Economic Impact of Wild Horse Management on Local Communities
By Ryan M. Yonk, with Katherine Best, Kole Nichols and Colby Warzecha (February 2021)

The question of how to effectively and equitably management public lands held by the federal government has been a contentious issue for years. This problem draws the attention of local communities, extractive industry users, ranchers, environmental and wildlife interest groups, and federal and state agencies. For local communities, these discussions are framed as matters of economic necessity as the public lands represent an important source of economic activity and revenue. For environmental groups, the discussion is framed in ecological terms that focus on the preservation of wild places and the ability of native species to roam free. For government agencies, balancing these competing interests has been a difficult task.

Precaution Can Kill: Chemical Benefits and Regulatory Risks
Independent Institute Briefing | By Kevin D. Gomez, Diana W. Thomas and Ryan M. Yonk (May 2020)

Regulation of chemicals is as ubiquitous as chemicals themselves. Wherever a chemical component is used, a regulatory requirement or procedure governing that use is likely to be found. Intervention, whether in the form of law or regulation, often is justified on the grounds of preventing harm associated with inappropriate use or excessive risk. However, regulation is also known to be accompanied by various costly risks. Owing to the difficulty of assessing risk accurately, particularly the risk of chemical hazards, burdensome or misaligned regulation can result in detrimental consequences for innovation, the economy in general, and human morbidity and mortality. While regulations seek to reduce the risk of death and other harms, the added costs of regulation can have the unintended effect of stifling higher probability risks, leading to lower personal incomes and, in turn, increasing the risk of mortality and other harms.

Research Papers

Prairie Prosperity: An Economic Guide for the State of North Dakota
Mercatus Center | By Jeremy Jackson, James Caton, Raheem Williams and Kali Christianson (October 2018)

The recent price collapse in commodity markets combined with public expenditure growth has resulted in North Dakota facing a historic budget crisis. In this research paper, the authors identify practical tax and expenditure reforms that can put the state back on the pathway to prosperity. While North Dakota enjoys many economic advantages, its reliance on oil, gas, and agricultural industries makes it susceptible to volatile boom-and-bust cycles. The state needs greater economic diversification to reduce this volatility. Unless state lawmakers resist overspending during times of prosperity, the cycle of painful budget cuts during economic downturns will persist. The authors recommend fiscal reform in three broad areas: revenue reform, expenditure reform, and state funds reform.

Technical Reports

North Dakota Economic Outlook
Quarterly Report | By Jeremy Jackson (December 2021)

The Economic Outlook quarterly report uses the North Dakota Forecast Model developed by the NDSU Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise to predict economic trends for the state of North Dakota and its three largest metropolitan statistical areas: Fargo, ND-MN; Bismarck, ND; and Grand Forks, ND-MN. The model uses past trends and empirical relationships in data to predict (forecast) future trends. These forecasts focus on key economic indicators such as wage growth, labor force participation, unemployment, and the housing price index. Like all forecast models, this method faces limitations and the specific values in the forecast should not be direct cause for decision-making. Rather, forecasting provides information about what is possible and can help establish expectations. The Economic Outlook report is released each quarter with updated data from the forecast model.

Persistently Poor Rural Counties Experienced Lower Employment Impacts From the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic but Have Higher Cumulative COVID-19 Case Rates
USDA Economic Research Service | By Elizabeth A. Dobis, Thomas Krumel, and Austin Sanders (February 2022)

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in more than 71 million cases across the United States and 860,000 deaths nationwide by late January 2022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beyond both cases and deaths, the pandemic prompted significant restrictions on business and government activities, broad changes across industries, and lifestyle shifts for many. The effects of the pandemic varied by location, and differences can be seen when comparing the impact of the disease on communities in rural (nonmetro) and urban (metro) areas of the United States, as well as when looking at counties with persistent poverty.

Rural America at a Glance: 2021 Edition
USDA Economic Research Service | By Elizabeth A. Dobis, Thomas Krumel, John Cromartie, Kelsey L. Conley, Austin Sanders, and Ruben Ortiz (November 2021)

The 2021 edition of Rural America at a Glance focuses on aspects affecting the resiliency and recovery of rural communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including population and employment change, intensity of infection and vaccination rates, and internet availability and adoption.

Meatpacking Working Conditions and the Spread of COVID-19
USDA Economic Research Service | By Thomas Krumel and Corey Goodrich (September 2021)

This working paper explores how working conditions in meatpacking plants may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19. It compares working conditions within the meatpacking sector to other manufacturing industries, and finds significantly higher risk of exposure for those working in the meatpacking industry, especially early in the pandemic before mitigation measures were implemented.

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