Skip to main content

Who Wins, Who Loses?

Inequality and the Distribution of Regulatory Impacts

Edited by Cary Coglianese

Examining whether and how regulation affects economic inequality

The recent debate over growing inequality in the United States has focused on several causes but has pretty much ignored one potential factor: government regulation. This book is the first serious examination of whether federal regulation, defined broadly, has exacerbated or counteracted economic disparities that pose major long-term political and social consequences.

Contributors provide extensive empirical evidence showing how key areas of federal regulation during the past forty years have had varying social and economic impacts across the different strata of American society. The fields of regulation examined in the book include those addressing pharmaceutical products, energy systems, financial institutions, employment, transportation, manufacturing operations, antitrust, and workplace safety.

The book synthesizes economic data and research to identify the major impacts of regulation in these fields and assess who enjoys most of the benefits and who incurs most of the costs from each. Overall, the aim is to gauge whether and when regulation, on balance, is either a progressive or a regressive force in the United States.

Contributors are leading scholars in law, economics, policy analysis, and the social sciences who bring extensive research backgrounds to their study of the major regulatory fields addressed in each chapter. The book provides policymakers, scholars, and analysts an empirical basis for understanding how regulations affect different sectors of society differently—and the potential impact on inequality of those regulatory differences.

Get daily updates from Brookings