The Public Interest

The new regulation comes to suburbia

Bernard J. Frieden

Spring 1979

THE spread of a new kind of government regulation through the country’s economic life has provoked growing doubts about the goals of regulation and its cost to society. Past research is not very helpful in resolving these doubts.  As Paul Weaver pointed out in the Winter 1978 issue of The Public Interest, the traditional description of regulation no longer fits the realities. Most of the new regulatory agencies enjoy considerably more authority than their predecessors in an adversary setting that discourages anything like the old compromises. It remains a question, however, whether more power for the regulators produces more benefits for the public. One way to find out the answer is to take a close look at how a new-style regulatory system works in one field-who uses it, for what purposes, and with what results. 

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