Economic Research

September/​October 2014 • Policy Report

This May, the Cato Institute unveiled a new publication series called Research Briefs in Economic Policy. Edited by Jeffrey A. Miron, director of economic studies at the Institute, each issue features noted academic economists summarizing their recent research on key policy matters.

While the topics will be highly focused, the publication is aimed at a wide audience. “As such, we will minimize jargon and unnecessary complexities,” Miron says. In the first brief, Andrew Samwick of Dartmouth College looks at an alternative tax treatment for private school enrollment.

In the United States, parents send about 10 percent of elementary and secondary school‐​age children to private schools. By paying out of pocket, these families relieve a financial burden on taxpayers, who would otherwise have to fund the public education of these children. Samwick suggests one way to offset this positive externality. By allowing a federal — and possibly state — tax deduction for these parents, in the amount of the per pupil expenditure in their local public schools, any resources saved would be available for other programs or reduced taxes.

With topics ranging from immigration to the impact of the Affordable Care Act on full‐​time employment, upcoming issues will be released twice every month. “Our goal is to inform, clarify, and enhance economic policy analyses and discussions,” Miron adds.

In addition to his responsibilities at the Institute, Miron is director of undergraduate studies in the economics department at Harvard University, currently splitting his time between the two organizations. As such, he is in a unique position to engage leading academics in the world of higher education.

“The incredible stream of research that is produced and discussed in the economics department forms a great foundation for my role at Cato,” he says. Miron received his PhD from MIT in 1984 and has published in many leading economics journals, including the American Economic Review and the Journal of Political Economy. He has written several studies on the economics of drug prohibition, and in 2010 Basic Books published his tour of libertarian thought, Libertarianism, from A to Z.

The Institute is pleased to add Research Briefs in Economic Policy to its collection of timely and accessible research publications.