The Mercatus Center, a conservative-leaning think tank in Washington D.C., has developed a method to quantify the number of regulatory restrictions placed on industries over time: Its RegData project counts the number of times “shall,” “must,” “may not,” “required” and “prohibited” has appeared in the Code of Federal Regulations between 1970 and 2020.
Through the data, it’s possible to view how many restrictions, by year, have been placed on specific industries, using the federal government’s broad industry classification codes. The below graphic shows how many total times those words have appeared in the code for all 15 broadly defined industries.
Over the past 50 years, agriculture has been in the middle of the pack, according to the center’s data. Regulatory restrictions have increased in agriculture, but the same is true for each broadly defined industry.
In general, the size of the federal government has increased over the decades, as well, with more government employees and larger budgets, according to a Washington Post article.
(The Mercatus Center was started by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers, according to The New Yorker. The center has worked to kill or limit the scope of regulations, according to The Wall Street Journal.)
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