Archbridge Insider November 2017

Barriers to Economic Mobility

One of the biggest barriers to economic mobility is the impact of proliferating occupational licensing requirements. This has been documented by the Institute for Justice and was discussed as one barrier to economic mobility by Richard V. Reeves of the Brookings Institution in his recent book Dream Hoarders. However, the exact relationship between occupational licensing and economic mobility has not been thoroughly explored. To fill this research gap, our newly released Policy & Analysis piece, from authors Brian Meehan, Edward Timmons, and Andrew Meehan, does just that. The authors link changes in mid- to low-income occupational licensing requirements over the past 20 years to the ground-breaking research of Raj Chetty and his team at the Equality of Opportunity project. This paper includes their initial findings but will soon be followed by an extensive study examining these links in more detail.

Speaking of overcoming barriers, we are very excited to bring you the amazing story of Sarah Breedlove — better known as Madam C. J. Walker — as our third installment of the American Originals series. Madam C. J. Walker is the first self-made female millionaire in the United States. She overcame what seemed like insurmountable barriers on her way up the income ladder in a journey that, even though short lived, positively impacted not only her life but the lives of thousands. Madam Walker’s story is brought to us by the exceptional business historian and entrepreneur Gary Hoover, who just became the newest member of Archbridge’s Board of Academic and Policy Advisers.

Thank you for reading this edition of the Archbridge Insider and joining us in our journey to lift barriers to lift lives.

Gonzalo Schwarz
President and CEO | Archbridge Institute

New Research from the Archbridge Institute

In a new report from the Archbridge Institute, Barriers to Mobility: Understanding the Relationship Between Growth in Occupational Licensing and Economic Mobility, economists Brian Meehan, Edward Timmons, and Andrew Meehan track the state-by-state growth in low- to moderate-income occupations requiring a license from 1993 to 2012 and compare it to rates of economic mobility. The researchers conclude that, although further research is needed, there is evidence to suggest that the growth in occupational licensing requirements negatively affects economic mobility.

Read the Full Report: Barriers to Mobility

American Originals: Madam C. J. Walker

The third installment of American Originals highlights the amazing story of Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C. J. Walker. Born the daughter of freed slaves, few have encountered more difficult barriers on the road to success. Madam C. J. Walker would go from humble beginnings to creating one of the largest hair care and cosmetic companies of the era, earning the distinction of becoming one of the wealthiest women of her time. In addition to her business acumen and financial success, Madam C. J. Walker was a generous philanthropist and used her success to help others overcome adversity and achieve their American Dream.

American Originals traces the stories of those who charted their own paths and achieved a better life for themselves and those around them by embracing personal responsibility, hard work, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Read the Full Story: Madam C. J. Walker

What We’re Reading

Dismissed by Degrees
New research from Dr. Joseph B. Fuller and Manjari Raman of the Harvard Business School makes the case that degree inflation is making the US labor force more inefficient. As more employers require a college degree for positions that historically did not need one, employers lose out on recruiting good talent, and it becomes harder for Americans to reach the middle class.


The Fragile Generation
Writing for Reason Magazine, New York University professor Jonathan Haidt and Let Grow President Lenore Skenazy warn that society’s increased focus on keeping kids safe from harm actually hinders their development and can lead to a generation of Americans unable to succeed in the modern world.



We Libertarians Were Really Wrong About School Vouchers
Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle revisits the policy of school vouchers and argues that, while there have been some successes, the policy fell short of achieving the broad societal transformation for which its early proponents had once hoped.



The Flip Side of NIMBY Zoning
In a recent article for CityLab, Richard Florida discusses new economic research suggesting that although zoning restrictions hamper overall economic growth, they also lessen inequality between regions. These findings present yet another policy with a clear tradeoff between fighting inequality and growing the economy.



Video Spotlight

On October 19, 2017, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a panel of experts to discuss rural poverty in America. The panel included Robert Doar of the American Enterprise Institute, Daniel Lichter of Cornell University, James Ziliak of Kentucky University, and Dottie Rosenbaum of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. They offered diverse views on the problem and insights into how to best combat poverty in rural America. Watch the full video on YouTube.


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