The Determinants of Progressive Era Reform: The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906
AbstractWe examine three theories of Progressive Era regulation: public interest, industry capture, and information manipulation by the federal bureaucracy and muckraking press. Based on analysis of qualitative legislative histories and econometric evidence, we argue that the adoption of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act was due to all three factors. Select producer groups sought regulation to tilt the competitive playing field to their advantage. Progressive reform interests desired regulation to reduce uncertainty about food and drug quality. Additionally, rent-seeking by the muckraking press and its bureaucratic allies played a key role in the timing of the legislation. We also find that because the interests behind regulation could not shape the enforcing agency or the legal environment in which enforcement took place, these groups did not ultimately benefit from regulation in the ways originally anticipated.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10984.
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Marc Law, Gary D. Libecap. "The Determinants of Progressive Era Reform. The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906," in Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin, editors, "Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History" University of Chicago Press (2006)
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- Marc Law & Gary D. Libecap, 2006. "The Determinants of Progressive Era Reform. The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 319-342 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
- N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
- L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-12-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2004-12-20 (Education)
- NEP-HIS-2004-12-20 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
- NEP-REG-2004-12-20 (Regulation)
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