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IPPSR is MSU’s new hub for public policy information and research. Search our summaries of scientific research with implications for public policy by inputting keywords in the search box or selecting options from the menus below.


Policy Research

When Schools Close

Marisa de la Torre, Julia Gwynne

October 2009

The article looked at 26 schools in Chicago that were considered poor performing or suffered from chronic underutilization. They looked at how students did after migrating to new schools and compared their performance to students who hadn’t moved from similar schools. Overall there was no real negative or positive change in students who moved schools. Some students who went to academically stronger schools noticed a positive change.

The Limits of Sanctions in Low-Performing Schools: A Study of Maryland and Kentucky Schools on Probation

Heinrich Mintrop

January 2003

The article looks at 11 different schools in Maryland and Kentucky that were considered “low performing” and were put under probationary measures by the state to help the schools. Only a few of the schools could find some solutions and help students, while the others did not. Underlying institutional stability appeared to be the key difference in whether schools benefited from these sanctions.

Smart Growth and the Transportation-Land Use Connection: What Does the Research Tell Us?

Susan Handy

April 2005

This study addresses modern issues of transportation and land use, and seeks to assess the strength of the claims of smart-growth advocates. The study specifically looks at the following four claims regarding smart growth: building more highways will contribute to more sprawl, building more highways will lead to more driving, investing in light rail transit systems will increase densities, and adopting new urbanism design strategies will reduce automobile use. For each of these claims, the authors provide evidence consistent with and evidence that challenges smart growth advocates. The study finds that highway construction does not increase travel as much as previously thought and that the right conditions are needed for public transit to effectively increase population density. However, the study also finds ample evidence that highway construction has an impact on where growth will occur and that new urbanism strategies do help those who want to drive less.

New highways as economic development tools: An evaluation using quasi-experimental matching methods

Terrance Rephann, Andrew Isserman

March 2002

Researchers looked at counties who had an interstate highway constructed either within or near their county and compared them to twin counties without an interstate highway constructed. Urban spillover counties showed the most profound and sustained effects. The noncompetitive counties, those without a city or near a metropolitan area, exhibit little effect on total income or earnings. Additionally, those counties directly adjacent to interstate counties did experience detrimental effects.

State Automobile Franchise Laws: Public or Private Interests?

T. Randolph Beard, George S. Ford

October 2016

This article explores the costs and benefits of state policies’ that require new vehicles to be sold from independent dealerships. The public and private interest in keeping, or repealing, these policies are debated using new evidence as well as material from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Rebuking the argument that independent franchising gives the dealerships greater market power, the authors argue that the state franchising laws are protectionist, dated, based off of flawed data, and inefficient. Using Michigan as an example, they explain how the shear economic power of the auto industry might be influential over the state legislature. As franchising laws benefit the manufacturers they also increase the revenue stream of the state. Dealerships raise the costs of vehicles thus raising the tax the consumer has to pay. But there are also benefits of franchising laws. Instead of having to deal directly with the manufacturer, where the consumer has little power, the consumer can negotiate with a dealership over prices, benefits, and other relevant concerns. Consumers gain a net benefit from negotiating, or “bundling,” both price and service agreements with dealership versus the manufacturer. The manufacturer has no interest in negotiating service costs/requirements because they make no profit from servicing vehicles. Here the franchise laws play a critical part. The current method with all these drawbacks does still act in the public interest. It gives consumers greater bargaining power and provides a way to keep manufacturers accountable.

The Detroit Future City: How Pervasive Neoliberal Urbanism Exacerbates Racialized Spatial Injustice

Daniel Clement, Miguel Kanai

March 2015

Clement and Kanai critique the intentions and impact of neoliberal urbanism as it pertains to urban revitalization and planning, from a framework of racial justice. The author’s examine the Detroit Future City project and ascertain their approach via various policy and media documents. Their analysis of Detroit’s census data shows that the areas of Detroit that DFC deems “innovation landscapes” are disproportionately comprised of Detroit’s most disadvantaged residents, primarily the Black population. In the name of fiscal responsibility, governmental efficiency, and sustainable urban development these innovation landscapes would displace municipal services, and thus further marginalize a predominantly low-income, black population and continue to hamper upward mobility and add to increasing wait times for public safety services to arrive in the area. Additionally, the authors do agree that done correctly, greening spaces and innovation landscapes can greatly contribute to Detroit’s revitalization, but the existing plan and future intentions to designate these specific neighborhoods as innovation landscapes would, arguably, lead to unintended consequences.

Urban Freeway Congestion: Quantification of the Problem and Effectiveness of Potential Solutions

Jeffrey A. Lindley

January 1987

This study looks at the growing problem of urban highway congestion and highlights the strain it puts on the American worker and economy. The authors used three different road improvements, which were widening, surveillance and control, and low cost modifications. The authors then looked at how these improvements affected important transportation metrics such as re-occuring delay, fuel reduction, and excess fuel consumption due to incidents.

Implementing Tax Abatements in Michigan: A Study of Best Practices

Gary Sands, Laura Reese, Heather Khan

February 2006

Through the lens of implementation of industrial property tax abatements, the authors explore if it is possible to allocate tax abatements in a way that will increase the likelihood of tangible resulting benefits. Not many municipalities place requirements or conditions for abatements. Necessary conditions for increased probable success could include granting abatements based on a careful assessment of costs and benefits of bringing a firm to a municipality. There were mixed results in their evaluations. A survey was conducted by the authors to study the tax abatement process in Michigan. These surveys were mailed to chief executive officers in all villages and cities in the state.

Does the Public Care About How Climate Change Might Affect Agriculture?

Gi-Eu Lee, Scott Loveridge, Julie A. Winkler

March 2016

Many researchers have studied the opinion of policy makers toward government intervention to help the agriculture industry adapt to climate change. There have also been numerous studies of farmer’s attitudes toward receiving this support, but very little work has been done to understand the general public’s attitude toward such measures. The researchers used responses from IPPSR’s State of the State survey to measure attitudes among the general public across the state of Michigan toward government support for agriculture adapting to climate change. They found that a large majority of Michigan residents support government action to assist farmers in adapting to climate change, in fact the support for such measures was significantly higher than support for general government adaptations to climate change. Additionally, support was higher during an abnormal warm spell, especially at the beginning of the warm spell.

Evaluating Behaviorally-Motivated Policy: Experimental Evidence from the Lightbulb Market

Hunt Allcott, Dmitry Taubinsky

February 2015

The authors use two randomized experiments to judge the value of subsidies for the purchase of high efficiency lightbulbs. They found that the most optimal way to increase consumer welfare was through moderate subsides for CFL lightbulbs rather than a ban on incandescent bulbs.