Empowering State and Local Governance

Empowering State and Local Governance

State and Local Intro

Significant policy making doesn’t just take place in the domain of the federal government. The Hoover Institution is committed to the idea that policy research should focus on solutions at the state and local level, where governments are best positioned to improve educational outcomes, stimulate economic growth, spur innovation, and respond to other needs of its citizens. To accomplish this goal of empowering states and localities across America, the Hoover Institution partners with a diverse range of state agencies and lawmakers. The aim of these collaborations is to produce data-driven policy recommendations on key issues such as economic development, public sector pensions, energy policy, tax and fiscal policy, and many others.  


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But while Sacramento may be most concerned with the amount of revenue filling its coffers, the losses to overall economic prosperity associated with out-migration are perhaps best reflected in the taxable income that may be lost when people leave the state. A person living in the state likely spends a large share of their income within the state, thereby producing other revenues for the state through property, sales, and gas taxes. Their spending also supports California businesses, employment, and general economic opportunity within the state. When an individual moves to a new state, California loses out on more than just income tax revenues; it also misses out on that future income and the spending that comes with it.

Senior Fellow Josh Rauh and Jillian Ludwig

Defining Ideas, February 18, 2022

Politics in DC have become quite dysfunctional. Policy making can be easier at the state and local levels because the cross-cutting coalitions tend to be simpler, meaning that it is easier to affect meaningful change. I think also that some of the wisdom we gained from the COVID-19 experience is that one-size-fits-all policies don’t work for a country as diverse as the United States. Public health responses implemented in New York certainly weren’t appropriate for Topeka, Kansas.

Senior Fellow Stephen Haber

Hoover Institution Q&A, September 23, 2021

The long-run development of Alabama is closely tied to the skills of its population. And the skills of the population depend crucially on Alabama schools. Alabama students currently fall significantly behind students in other states. This learning gap is not solely attributable to the schools, but the schools are the primary force that can be employed to improve the outcomes. Improving the quality and impact of the schools is not something that can be done quickly, because there is no simple blueprint for how to get the gains in learning that are needed. Improvement is something that has a large local element, depending on both local demands and local capacities. It is nonetheless something that can be required, aided, and facilitated by the state.

Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow Eric Hanushek

Hoover Institution report to the Alabama Innovation Commission, October 19, 2021

Fellows in this Conversation

Michael J. Boskin

Wohlford Family Senior Fellow

Michael J. Boskin is the Wohlford Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Tully M. Friedman Professor of Economics at Stanford. He is also a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. In addition, he advises governments and businesses globally.

Boskin served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) from 1989 to 1993, when he helped resolve the Third World Debt and Saving and Loan financial crises, and place the first effective controls on government spending while protecting the defense budget. His CEA was rated by the Council for Excellence in Government as one of the five most respected agencies in the federal government. He earlier served on presidential candidate Ronald Reagan’s Tax Policy Task Force, helping develop the policies that, during Reagan’s presidency,  substantially lowered marginal tax rates, indexed tax brackets for inflation, accelerated depreciation, and created IRAs and 401Ks, the economic rationale for which was predicated on his research on the effects of taxes on saving. He later chaired the highly influential blue-ribbon Advisory Commission to Study the Consumer Price Index, whose report has transformed the way government statistical agencies around the world measure inflation, GDP, and productivity. 

Boskin serves on several corporate and philanthropic boards of directors, including those of the Oracle Corporation, the Koret Foundation and Bloom Energy.

In addition to Stanford and the University of California, Boskin has taught at Harvard and Yale. The author of more than one hundred fifty books and articles, he is internationally recognized for his research on world economic growth, tax and budget theory and policy, US saving and consumption patterns, and the implications of changing technology and demography on capital, labor, and product markets. His op-eds appear regularly in the Wall Street Journal and other leading newspapers. He also writes a bimonthly column on global economics and politics syndicated in 145 countries.

Boskin has received numerous professional awards and citations, including Stanford’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1988; the National Association of Business Economists’ Abramson Award for outstanding research and its Distinguished Fellow Award; the Medal of the President of the Italian Republic in 1991 for his contributions to global economic understanding; and the 1998 Adam Smith Prize for outstanding contributions to economics.

Boskin received his BA with highest honors and the Chancellor’s Award as outstanding undergraduate from the University of California–Berkeley, where he also received his MA and PhD.

His research papers and op-eds are available at the Hoover Institution Archives and on his personal website. His current research focuses on the defense budget, federalism, the political economy of redistribution, and more generally, public economics and macroeconomics.

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John F. Cogan

Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow

John F. Cogan is the Leonard and Shirley Ely Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His research is focused on US budget and fiscal policy and federal entitlement programs. He has published widely in professional journals in both economics and political science. His latest book, The High Cost of Good Intentions (2017) is the recipient of the 2018 Hayek Prize. The book traces the history of US federal entitlement programs from the Revolutionary War to modern times. His previous books include Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Five Steps to a Better Health Care System (2005), coauthored with Glenn Hubbard and Daniel P. Kessler, and The Budget Puzzle (1994), with Timothy J. Muris and Allen Schick.

At Stanford, he taught classes in the Economics Department, the Graduate School of Business, and the Public Policy Program, where he was a faculty member from 1994 to 2019. He also served on faculty advisory boards for the Stanford in Washington Program and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He is a recipient of the Stanford-in-Government's Distinguished Service Award and the Stanford Review’s Best Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Cogan has devoted a considerable part of his career to public service. He served under President Ronald Reagan as assistant secretary for policy in the US Department of Labor from 1981 to 1983, and in the US Office of Management and Budget, as associate director from 1983 to 1985 and as deputy director from 1988 to 1989.

He was appointed to numerous congressional, presidential, and California state advisory commissions. He was a member of President George W. Bush’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, the US Bipartisan Commission on Health Care (the Pepper Commission), the Social Security Notch Commission, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance. He was also a member of the California State Commission on the 21st-Century Economy and the California Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission.

Cogan served on the board of directors of Monaco Coach Corporation from 2006 to 2009; the board of directors of Gilead Sciences from 2006 to 2020 (lead independent director, 2013–2020); and on the board of trustees of the Charles Schwab Family of Funds from 2009 to 2021 (chairman, Governance Committee 2014–2020).

Cogan received his AB in 1969 and his PhD in 1976 from the University of California–Los Angeles, both in economics. He received his MA in economics from California State University–Long Beach in 1970. He was an associate economist at the RAND Corporation from 1975 to 1980. In 1979, Cogan was appointed a national fellow at the Hoover Institution; in 1980 he was appointed a senior research fellow; and in 1984 he became a senior fellow.

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Stephen Haber

Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow

Stephen Haber is the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, the A.A. and Jeanne Welch Milligan Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. In addition, he is a professor of political science, professor of history, and professor of economics (by courtesy).

Haber has spent his career investigating why the world distribution of income so uneven. His papers have been published in economics, history, political science, and law journals. He is the author of five books and the editor of six more. Haber’s most recent books include Fragile by Design with Charles Calomiris (Princeton University Press), which examines how governments and industry incumbents often craft banking regulatory policies in ways that stifle competition and increase systemic risk. The Battle Over Patents (Oxford University Press), a volume edited with Naomi Lamoreaux, documents the development of US-style patent systems and the political fights that have shaped them.

His latest project focuses on a long-standing puzzle in the social sciences: why are prosperous democracies not randomly distributed across the planet, but rather, are geographically clustered? Haber and his coauthors answer this question by using geospatial tools to simulate the ecological conditions that shaped pre-industrial food production and trade. They then employ machine learning methods to elucidate the relationship between ecological conditions and the levels of economic development that emerged across the globe over the past three centuries.

Haber holds a Ph.D. in history from UCLA and has been on the Stanford faculty since 1987. From 1995 to 1998, he served as associate dean for the social sciences and director of Graduate Studies of Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. He is among Stanford’s most distinguished teachers, having been awarded every teaching prize Stanford has to offer.

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Eric Hanushek

Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow in Education

Eric Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He is internationally recognized for his economic analysis of educational issues, and his research has had broad influence on education policy in both developed and developing countries. He received the Yidan Prize for Education Research in 2021.

His research linking teacher effectiveness to students’ learning gains forms the conceptual basis for using value-added measures to evaluate teachers and schools, now a widely adopted practice in many countries. His recent book, The Knowledge Capital of Nations: Education and the Economics of Growth summarizes his research establishing the close links between countries’ long-term rates of economic growth and the skill levels of their populations.   Earlier books include Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and StatehousesCourting Failure, Handbook on the Economics of Education, The Economics of Schooling and School Quality, Improving America’s Schools, Making Schools Work, Educational Performance of the Poor, and Education and Race, along with over 300 widely cited articles in professional journals.

He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the area coordinator for Economics of Education of the CESifo Research Network, and a research fellow of the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. He has been chair of the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences, and from 1983-85 he was Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office. He currently is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) that sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

He previously held academic appointments at the University of Rochester, Yale University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and the International Academy of Education along with being a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists and the American Education Research Association.

He is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and completed his Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Lee Ohanian

Senior Fellow (adjunct)

Lee E. Ohanian is a senior fellow (adjunct) at the Hoover Institution and a professor of economics and director of the Ettinger Family Program in Macroeconomic Research at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

He is associate director of the Center for the Advanced Study in Economic Efficiency at Arizona State University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he codirects the research initiative Macroeconomics across Time and Space. He is also a fellow in the Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory.

His research focuses on economic crises, economic growth, and the impact of public policy on the economy. Ohanian is coeditor of Government Policies and Delayed Economic Recovery (Hoover Institution Press, 2012). He is an adviser to the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis and St. Louis, has previously advised other Federal Reserve banks, foreign central banks, and the National Science Foundation, and has testified to national and state legislative committees on economic policy. He is on the editorial boards of Econometrica and Macroeconomic Dynamics. He is a frequent media commentator and writes for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Investor’s Business Daily. He has won numerous teaching awards at UCLA and the University of Rochester.

He previously served on the faculties of the Universities of Minnesota and Pennsylvania and as vice president at Security Pacific Bank. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his PhD in economics from the University of Rochester.

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Joshua D. Rauh

Senior Fellow

Joshua Rauh is the Ormond Family Professor of Finance at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He leads the Hoover Institution State and Local Government Initiative.

He formerly served at the White House where he was principal chief economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (2019-20), and taught at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (2004–9) and the Kellogg School of Management (2009–12). At the Hoover Institution he has served as Director of Research (2018-19). Rauh studies government pension liabilities, corporate investment, business taxation, and investment management. His research on pension systems and public finance has received national media coverage in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and The Economist, and he has testified before Congress on these topics. His PragerU video “Public Pensions: An Economic Time Bomb” has been viewed over four million times on the PragerU website and over three million times on YouTube. He has published numerous journal articles and has received various awards recognizing his scholarship including the Brattle Prize and the Smith Breeden Prize of the American Finance Association. His scholarly papers have appeared in journals such as the Journal of Political Economy, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Review of Financial Studies, and the Journal of Public Economics.

Prior to his academic career, he was an associate economist at Goldman Sachs in London. Rauh received a BA from Yale University and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both in economics.

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Jonathan Rodden

Senior Fellow

Jonathan Rodden is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor in the political science department at Stanford. Rodden was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, 2006–7, and a W. Glenn Campbell and Rita Ricardo-Campbell National Fellow, 2010–12.

He has written several articles and a pair of books on federalism and fiscal decentralization. His most recent book, Why Cities Lose: The Deep Roots of the Urban-Rural Political Divide (Basic Books, 2019), Rodden demonstrates the left's electoral challenges have deeper roots in economic and political geography. He frequently works with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on issues related to fiscal decentralization.

His research focuses on the comparative political economy of institutions. Rodden has also written papers on the geographic distribution of political preferences within countries, legislative bargaining, the distribution of budgetary transfers across regions, and the historical origins of political institutions. He is currently writing a series of articles and a book on political geography and the drawing of electoral districts around the world.

Rodden received his PhD in political science from Yale University and his BA from the University of Michigan and was a Fulbright student at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Before joining the Stanford faculty in 2007, he was the Ford Associate Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Bill Whalen

Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Distinguished Policy Fellow in Journalism

Bill Whalen, the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Distinguished Policy Fellow in Journalism and a Hoover Institution research fellow since 1999, writes and comments on campaigns, elections and governance with an emphasis on California and America’s political landscapes.

Whalen writes on politics and current events for The Washington Post and Real Clear Politics, as well as Hoover’s California On Your Mind web channel.

Whalen hosts Hoover’s Matters of Policy & Politics podcast and serves as the moderator of Hoover’s GoodFellows broadcast exploring social, economic and geopolitical dynamics. He also is the host of The Hoover Book Club showcasing new releases by Hoover fellows.

Whalen has been a guest political analyst on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN. He’s also a regular guest on the nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by John Batchelor and Lars Larson.

Whalen has served as a media consultant for California political hopefuls and aspiring policy leaders. His past clients have included former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former congressman Tom Campbell and former Los Angeles mayor Richard J. Riordan.

Prior to joining the Hoover Institution, Whalen served as chief speechwriter and director of public affairs for former California governor Pete Wilson. In that capacity, he was responsible for the governor's annual State of the State address, as well as other major policy addresses.

Before moving to California, Whalen was a political correspondent for Insight Magazine, the national newsweekly and sister publication of the Washington Times, where he was honored for his profiles and analysis of candidates, campaigns, Congress, and the White House.

In addition to his time in Washington as a political journalist, Whalen served as a speechwriter for the Bush-Quayle reelection campaign and was a senior associate with the public relations firm Robinson-Lake/Sawyer-Miller, offering media and political advice for domestic and foreign clientele.

Whalen currently resides in Palo Alto, California.

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State and Local Governance Initiative

The State and Local Governance Initiative at the Hoover Institution generates high-quality publishable research with the goal of impacting state and local government policy. Our team specializes in partnering with policymakers at the state and local level to provide evidence-based analysis and policy recommendations using administrative government data. Visit our State and Local Governance Initiative site for more information on partnering with our team.

State and Local
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