ACRE: Our Research

The vision and hope of ACRE faculty, staff and supporters is greater human well-being—a society in which everyone lives the best, most rewarding life possible, as defined by each individual. Decades of research show a strong correlation between economic and personal freedom and greater societal wealth, career and job opportunities, health outcomes and overall happiness.

Empirical evidence clearly shows that limited government, free markets and individual freedom is the clear path to human well-being. To achieve that end, we created ACRE. Over the past decade, growth in the size and power of federal, state and local governments has eroded freedom in the U.S. We are suffering the consequences: a sluggish economy, high unemployment, and a heavy tax burden on hard working individuals.

ACRE’s four primary areas of economic research are:

Regulations that inhibit earning a living – In the entire United States Arkansas has the 2nd greatest burden in terms of number of jobs that require a government license to work, and the education, experience, and expenditure required to obtain a government license. We require more education and experience for licensure than any state nearby. These regulations hinder Arkansans ability to earn a living. The regulations are touted as protective, but they protect incumbents from competing with their employees.

Transparency and efficient governance – We choose to focus on transparency and good governance because we believe that voters should be able to easily obtain timely, relevant and comprehensible information related to the activities of the government that represents them. Our first transparency project focuses on transparency at the county level. Multiple counties in Arkansas have experienced budgetary irregularities brought on by illegal, inept, or inappropriate spending. It is very difficult for voters to track down these irregularities because many counties do not share financial documents with the public. Many do not even provide the mandated materials much less make the materials easily searchable on the web. Improved transparency would increase voter confidence and save money.

Unleashing entrepreneurship – Entrepreneurship is a very important key to economic growth. Small firms create 64% percent of net new private-sector jobs. About 40 percent of the private sector’s net new jobs have been created by the churn of startups minus closures. Entrepreneurship is more than economic growth. When people become entrepreneurs they are choosing to make their own dreams come true-to run their own lives. Yet entrepreneurship is an area where Arkansas does not do well. According to the Kauffman index on startup activity Arkansas 26th in 2014 and 32nd in 2015. Of our neighbors, only Tennessee is ranked worse.

Public education – We choose education as one of our topics because education improves in a very direct and meaningful way. Educated workers earn more money and start more businesses. Arkansas spends a greater percentage of its budget on education than any of its neighbors, but the overall scores are not very good. Further, we find that when we rank states by NAEP outcomes per dollar spent, Arkansas ranks 5th out of the seven states in the neighborhood.