The Cato Institute’s nationally and internationally recognized Centers and Projects tackle a wide range of topics, including health care, education, environment and energy, foreign policy, and international human rights. Scholars in these Centers and Projects vigorously apply America’s founding principles to key issues of the day, and are committed to countering the continued expansion of government beyond its constitutional constraints, and to confronting escalating attacks on individual rights.
The Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies addresses a wide range of constitutional and legal issues, especially by encouraging the judiciary to neither make nor ignore the law but rather to interpret and apply it through the natural rights tradition inherited from the Founders. Center scholars conduct rigorous legal research, hold forums on key legal issues, publish our annual Supreme Court Review, and manage one of the most successful amicus programs in the country.
Cato’s Center for Educational Freedom was founded on the principle that parents are best suited to make important decisions regarding the care and education of their children. The Center’s scholars seek to shift the terms of public debate in favor of the fundamental right of parents and toward a future when state‐run schools give way to a dynamic, independent system of schools competing to meet the needs of American children.
The Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity was established to promote a better understanding around the world of the benefits of market‐liberal policy solutions to combat some of the most pressing problems faced by developing nations. In particular, the Center seeks to advance policies that protect human rights, extend the range of personal choice, and support the central role of economic freedom in ending world poverty.
Taking its inspiration from James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, the Center for Representative Government is dedicated to promoting limited, representative government. The Center and its scholars work through books, conferences, forums, op‐eds, speeches, congressional testimony, and TV and radio appearances to bring the ideals of individual liberty, civil society, limited government and citizen legislators back to the forefront of American political life.
The Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives is dedicated to finding better alternatives to today’s discretionary monetary and counterproductive financial regulatory regimes. By studying and making academics, policymakers, and the general public aware of possibilities for monetary and financial reform, the Center will develop practical policy strategies for building a monetary and financial system that is both more competitive and far more stable than the status quo.
The Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies is focused on issues and policies that expand the freedom of Americans to participate in global markets. Center scholars also maintain an interactive web site that allows users to examine how Congress and its individual members have voted over the years on bills and amendments affecting the freedom of Americans to trade and invest in the global economy.
Downsizing the Federal Government, a project of the Cato Institute, helps policymakers and the public understand where federal funds are being spent and how to reform each government department. Project scholars describe the failings of federal agencies and identify specific programs to cut. They also discuss the systematic reasons why government programs are often obsolete, mismanaged, or otherwise dysfunctional.
Project on Criminal Justice
At the federal, state, and local levels, the institutions and individuals that make up our criminal justice systems lack appropriate oversight and accountability, leaving citizens vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Moreover, much of our criminal law is both immoral and violates the original public meaning of the Constitution. The Project on Criminal Justice undertakes a focused, strategic approach to reforming the laws and institutions that have undermined both the efficacy and the legitimacy of our criminal justice system.
Project on Social Security Choice
Social Security is not sustainable without reform. Simply put, it cannot pay promised future benefits with current levels of taxation. Yet raising taxes or cutting benefits will only make a bad deal worse. However, allowing younger workers to privately invest their Social Security taxes through individual accounts will improve Social Security’s rate of return; provide better retirement benefits; treat women, minorities, and low‐income workers more fairly; and give workers real ownership and control of their retirement funds.
Troubled Currencies Project
For various reasons — ranging from political mismanagement, to civil war, to economic sanctions — some countries are unable to maintain a stable domestic currency. These “troubled” currencies are associated with elevated rates of inflation, and in some extreme cases, hyperinflation. Often, it is difficult to obtain timely, reliable exchange‐rate and inflation data for countries with troubled currencies. To address this, the Troubled Currencies Project collects black‐market exchange‐rate data for these troubled currencies and estimates the implied inflation rates for each country.
Project on Public Opinion
The Cato Institute’s Project on Public Opinion conducts high quality public opinion surveys, in‐depth studies, and experiments to investigate what Americans think about important public policy issues, what values and assumptions motivate their beliefs, and how their opinion changes and evolves. Our data‐driven social science research informs policymakers, opinion leaders, policy experts, journalists and the general public so that they may better understand how public attitudes are shaping America.
For nearly 100 years, a federal law known as the Jones Act has restricted water transportation of cargo between U.S. ports to ships that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-registered, and U.S.-built. Justified on national security grounds as a means to bolster the U.S. maritime industry, the unsurprising result of this law has been to impose significant costs on the U.S. economy while providing few of the promised benefits. By systematically laying bare the truth about this nearly 100 year old failed law, the Cato Institute Project on Jones Act Reform is meant to raise public awareness and lay the groundwork for its repeal or reform.
Project on Emerging Technologies
The Cato Institute’s Project on Emerging Technologies advances a unique and optimistic vision of emerging technology consistent with the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. The project seeks to propose policies consistent with that vision. While the project advances an optimistic vision it also highlights the risks associated with emerging technologies such as erosions of civil liberties and threats to public safety.
The Cato Project on Poverty and Inequality in California was launched in 2019 to study the root causes of poverty in California and recommend practical solutions designed to help all Californians prosper and rise as far as their individual talents and abilities will take them.