The New Federalism

The New Federalism

Can the States Be Trusted?

Editors: John Ferejohn, Barry R. Weingast
ISBN: 978-0-8179-9512-6
Publication Date: 7/29/1997
Pages: 170

In recent years, the growth of the federal government and its failure to resolve many major problems have ignited a serious new debate. Some scholars and policymakers suggest that reinvigorating American federalism—returing a variety of regulatory and police powers back to the states—may better solve many of these problems. Others claim that it will gut policies or cripple national regulation. This book confronts these issues as it investigates the central question of the new American federalism: Will it yield better government, in doing so it poses the provocative question, Can the states be trusted? Proponents of greater federalism argue that it creates competition and fosters the "laboratory of the states." Opponents claim that decentralizing power to the states will lead to a "race to the bottom." The contributors to the volume examine the current state of knowledge and evidence about both sides of the argument and offer

  • A historical and constitutional perspective that raises important questions for the contemporary debate
  • The main lessons of modern economics applicable to the new federalism
  • Evidence on interstate competition in three important policy domains: welfare, the environment, and corporate law
  • An outline of the relative merits of a statutory versus a constitutional basis for the new federalism
  • The authors of the The New Federalism: Can the State be Trusted? conclude that the answer is a qualified yes. The studies in this volume find little evidence for a race to the bottom in three major policy domains. This book should be an invaluable resource to federal and state policymakers alike.

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    Barry R. Weingast

    Barry R. Weingast is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution as well as the Ward C. Krebs Family Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University; he served as chair of that department from 1996 to 2001. He is also a professor of economics, by courtesy, at the university.


    John Ferejohn

    John Ferejohn is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Carolyn S. G. Munro Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He is also a professor (by courtesy) in the Department of Economics and in the Graduate School of Business.

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