The paper describes how ordinary citizens view economic regulation and summarizes answers to questions about regulation and regulators since the 1970s from the General Social Survey. The pattern is clear: ordinary citizens are skeptical and wary. They want less regulation and do not trust regulators to do what is right. The mistrust has become stronger over time. However, the public supports environmental and electricity rate regulation. These sentiments are shared across age, sex, race, education, and income groups and the left/right ideological spectrum. The public tends to oppose less traditional regulation, such as wage and price controls, government ownership of some industries, and regulation of steel prices. But there is less consensus across demographic groups: blacks, the less educated, and low-income groups are less hostile, or marginally friendly, to less conventional modes of regulation. The paper concludes by contrasting public opinion with the path of regulation since the 1970s.
"Public Opinion about Regulation,"
Journal of Law and Economics: Vol. 65:
6, Article 1.
Available at: https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/jle/vol65/iss6/1