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Research Projects

An Investigation of the Origins of Economic Freedom

How economic freedom is improved is much less understood than the benefits freedom provides. This research project will address this major gap in our knowledge. If private property and economic freedom are essential for achieving and maintaining a high standard of living it is crucial to understand specifically how improvements in these areas have been achieved and if there are lessons that are replicable in less free areas of the world or less free U.S. states today.

Scholars have expended much research effort demonstrating the causal links between the existence of economic freedom in a particular nation or region and the improvement of a multitude of varied measures of human well-being. Unfortunately, what is far less understood are the processes by which the transformation takes place that produces economic freedom, and, eventually, widespread prosperity. This research will remedy this deficiency in understanding of the causes of economic freedom. The project will aim to identify, contextualize and explain – through a series of empirical and qualitative studies – the many and varied market and non-market mechanisms that initiate and perpetuate the social processes that produce a transition to institutions that support economic freedom.

This project will be interdisciplinary. Although the primary concern involves poverty alleviation through free market development, understanding what underpins the institutions that protect economic freedoms necessarily involves questions about the role of culture, ideology, law, the moral and spiritual foundations of free enterprise, history, politics, geography and economic conditions. In this sense, there exists an opportunity to encourage dialogue across a wide variety of disciplines that focuses on the imperatives of improving the human condition in the long run.  Rather than a compartmentalized solution to a much broader problem, this project will promote a richer understanding of the institutions that promote human prosperity and, more importantly, how those institutions emerge.

This project will be a foundational research initiative for the Institute that will promote the professional and scholarly development of graduate student research assistants and provide unique collaborative opportunities for Texas Tech faculty and students with visiting research scholars. Project participants will produce research papers, visiting researchers will give frequent guest lectures and stay on campus for extended research visits, and new Ph.D. students will research the topic as assistants and in their own dissertations.


An Economic, Fiscal and Cultural Analysis of Immigration and the Case for Reform

During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University (TTU) invited several scholars to study the impact of immigration on the United States. The main goal of this research project is to produce an authoritative book on the state of our knowledge about the effects of immigration that will be of interest to academics, but still accessible to policy makers and the general public.  It should become the “go-to” source for people interested in immigration. Policy papers are prevalent in the immigration debate, but there has been scarce effort to account for the current state of knowledge on the issues related to immigration. An authoritative scholarly book will add more value through compilation of the existing advances in understanding of the various issues related to immigration and proliferation of this knowledge in an organized and effective presentation.

In early May 2014, project participants visited Texas Tech and presented their working research to the other participants and invited members of the university community. Workshop attendees offered criticism in an effort to improve the overall quality of the arguments and evidence presented. Please see below for the latest versions of the working papers that will be included in the published volume.

FMI Director Benjamin Powell, as project leader, is serving as editor and will contribute an introduction and concluding remarks for the essays collected in the volume. He will also serve as the primary contact for media outreach efforts following the completion of the project. Please contact the Free Market Institute at free.market@ttu.edu with any questions about the project.

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