Bad Economic Justifications for Minimum Wage Hikes

What is the economic case for increasing the federal minimum wage? To even posit that question sounds odd. Proponents of a higher minimum wage claim that the policy change could alleviate all sorts of economic and social ills. But it’s worth assessing, from first principles, the economic arguments advanced for how the minimum wage level should be set. In a new brief, Cato scholar Ryan Bourne argues that the metrics that $15 minimum wage advocates use to make the case for substantial minimum wage hikes are not, on their own, economically sensible benchmarks by which to set minimum wage rates.

Principles for the 2020 Surface Transportation Reauthorization

America’s surface transportation infrastructure needs significant improvements and rehabilitation, yet Congress is uncertain about how to do this. Some want to significantly increase federal spending on infrastructure. Others want to end deficit financing of transportation and end federal restrictions that reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of the funds that are spent. In a new paper, Cato scholar Randal O’Toolepresents three principles that Congress should apply to a new surface transportation funding bill. These principles are pay-as-you-go, user fees, and subsidiarity.

Making Sense of the Minimum Wage: A Roadmap for Navigating Recent Research

For decades, debates over the minimum wage have been tense among advocates, policymakers, and professional researchers alike. While professional economists were once broadly skeptical of the benefits of a minimum wage, that consensus has eroded. Following decades of moderate minimum wage changes, select cities and states have recently passed substantial increases. In a new paper, economics professor Jeffrey Clemens discusses four ways in which the case for large minimum wage increases is either mistaken or overstated.

Cato Studies

Of Special Note

The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor

The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America's Poor

The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America’s Poor energetically challenges the conventional wisdom of both the right and the left that underlies much of the contemporary debate over poverty and welfare policy. Author and national public policy expert Michael Tanner takes to task conservative critiques of a “culture of poverty” for their failure to account for the structural circumstances in which the poor live. In addition, he criticizes liberal calls for fighting poverty primarily through greater redistribution of wealth and new government programs.

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Cato Pocket Constitution

To encourage people everywhere to better understand and appreciate the principles of government that are set forth in America’s founding documents, the Cato Institute published this pocket-size edition.

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Home Study Resources

The Cato Institute offers a wealth of online educational audio and video resources, from self-paced guides on the ideas of liberty and the principles of economics, to exclusive, archived lectures by thinkers such as Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek. Browse through some highlights of our collections, for personal study or for use in the classroom.

Sphere Summit: Teaching Civic Culture Together

For more than four decades, the Cato Institute has introduced people, including millions of young people, to the ideas of freedom. Many Cato books are already taught in high school curricula across the country. To advance the ideas of liberal democracy and the rule of law, Cato has developed the Sphere Summit for educators. The opening Summit seminar, “Teaching Civic Culture Together,” will be held at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC, on July 14–18, 2019.