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The Focus of Our Research

Our multidisciplinary work focuses on researching the structural determinants of economic mobility and promoting solutions that remove barriers to individual achievement, earned success and opportunity.

Our initial research will focus on the relationships between income mobility and entrepreneurship, occupational licensing, and the sharing economy. Future issues that we plan to target include business dynamism, rule of law, regulation, education, trade, monetary policy, property rights and character development.

To accomplish our research objectives, we are looking to fund new research and innovative approaches that tackle various gaps in public policy research on economic mobility and its structural indicators. To propose a paper, please send a one-page proposal with a title, timeline and description of research methodology to research@archbridgeinstitute.org.

Economic mobility has become a leading policy concern across the political spectrum in America. But “opportunity” and “mobility” are elusive concepts. Dr. Scott Winship provides an overview of the different ways of measuring both relative and absolute mobility (i.e., movement in ranks and movement in dollars). He distinguishes between mobility indicators that assess movement in different parts of the parental and child income distributions, as well as summary measures that describe how mobility does or does not reduce childhood inequalities.
Across the globe, people always seek more opportunity for themselves and for their children. The last several decades have seen a steady increase in living standards, particularly in wealthy nations—but has this translated into feelings of better opportunities for success than previous generations? To answer this question, and others related to attitudes regarding economic opportunity and mobility, Archbridge Institute Honorary Advisor Dr. Scott Winship analyzes poll results from rich nations and compares them to historical trends.
Gonzalo Schwarz, president and CEO of the Archbridge Institute, reviews the literature and examines recent studies on the importance of structural factors in understanding economic mobility. He finds that the analysis raises quite a few questions and notes that expanding the opportunity to climb the income ladder should be the main focus of the inequality and mobility debate.
In “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.
Director of Programs Ben Wilterdink reviews the literature and examines recent studies on the connections between minimum wage increases, the availability of entry-level work, and trends in teenage employment. He finds that the current discussions about increasing the minimum wage overlook some far-reaching consequences for individuals and their ability learn the skills needed for future economic success.
In “Deserting Workers? Barriers to Work in New Mexico,” Dr. Edward Timmons and Conor Norris highlight how occupational licensing restrictions are holding back New Mexicans attempting to climb the income ladder. Building on previous research that tracked state-by-state growth in low- to moderate-income occupations requiring a license, the researchers also suggest solutions for policymakers looking to expand economic opportunities.

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