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.

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