Since 1920 the Jones Act has mandated that the sea transport of cargo between U.S. ports must be performed by vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, U.S. flagged, and U.S.-crewed. Justified on national security grounds, the law was meant to ensure a strong maritime sector to bolster U.S. capabilities in times of war or national emergency. These envisioned benefits, however, have proved illusory while the Jones Act has imposed a very real and ongoing economic burden. Despite this, the law survives thanks to well-connected supporters and ignorance of the Jones Act and its costs by the general public.

More on Jones Act


Jones Act Expensive, Benefits Questionable

By Colin Grabow and Michael Hansen. Star Advertiser. May 21, 2019.

The Jones Act Is Protecting U.S. Shipyards to Death

By Colin Grabow. Philadelphia Inquirer. April 25, 2019.

A Better Way to Unclog NYC Streets: Repeal the Jones Act

By Daniel J. Ikenson and Colin Grabow. New York Post. April 7, 2019.

Cato Studies

The Jones Act: A Burden America Can No Longer Bear

By Colin Grabow, Inu Manak, and Daniel J. Ikenson. Policy Analysis No. 845. June 28, 2018.

Cato Reviews & Journals

Anchors Awry: The Jones Act Debate

George Landrith and Robert Quartel. Policy Report. January/February 2019.

Does the Jones Act Endanger American Seamen?

Thomas Grennes. Regulation. Fall 2017.

America’s Welfare Queen Fleet: The Need for Maritime Policy Reform

Robert Quartel. Regulation. Summer 1991.


Keeping Up with the Jones Act

Featuring Daniel J. Ikenson, Colin Grabow, and Jeff Vanderslice. June 4, 2019. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Unnatural Disaster: Assessing the Jones Act’s Impact on Puerto Rico

Featuring Vicente Feliciano, John Dunham, Luis Rivera Marín, & Anne Krueger. April 30, 2019. Policy Forum.

The Jones Act: Charting a New Course after a Century of Failure

Featuring Daniel Griswold, Colin Grabow, Manuel Reyes, Bryan Riley, James W. Coleman, Jennifer Danner Riccardi, Ted Loch-Temzelides, Daniel J. Ikenson, Steve Ellis, Nick Loris, Robert Quartel, Christopher A. Preble, Keliʻi Akina, Thomas Grennes, Howard Gutman, Michael Hansen, Inu Manak, George Landrith, & Brett Fortnam. December 6, 2018. Conference.