Strategic Research


Immunity and Accountability


The largest ever study of qualified immunity cases, Unaccountable finds the doctrine shields a wider array of officials and conduct than commonly thought while unacceptably burdening victims of government abuse and failing at its goals.

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

License to Work 3

This third edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report finds that for lower-income Americans, licensing continues to be widespread, burdensome and—frequently—irrational. It also provides a blueprint for meaningful licensing reform.

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Raising Barriers, Not Quality

This study tests claims that occupational licenses make consumers better off by screening out workers likely to provide inferior service. Comparing Yelp ratings for service providers in neighboring states with different licensing regimes, this study…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Too Many Licenses

In recent decades, states have enacted occupational licensing laws covering a growing number of jobs, and now more American workers than ever must get a license to work. But do we need these new licenses?…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Frustrating, Corrupt, Unfair

Victims of civil forfeiture call it frustrating, corrupt and unfair. This first-of-its-kind survey describes the experiences of victims of one civil forfeiture program, Philadelphia’s.

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

Cosmetology is one of the most widely and onerously regulated occupations for lower-income workers, yet little research has explored the experiences of aspiring beauty workers. This first-of-its-kind study takes advantage of federal educational…

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

A January 2021 executive order requires Utah executive agencies to identify occupational regulations that are no longer necessary or can be reined in to reduce barriers to entry. One regulation that should be on the table is cosmetology…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Does Forfeiture Work?

Forfeiture is a controversial tool police and prosecutors use to take and keep people’s cash, cars and even homes under the guise of fighting crime. This study is the first to look at whether state…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Policing for Profit

Nationwide, civil forfeiture is a massive threat to property and due process rights. So finds the third edition of Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture. The report presents the largest ever collection…


Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Jetway Robbery?

Law enforcement agencies routinely seize currency from travelers at airports nationwide using civil forfeiture—a legal process that allows agencies to take and keep property without ever charging owners with a crime, let alone securing a…

Code Enforcement | Fines and Fees | Private Property

Municipal Fines and Fees

Cities and towns nationwide use their power to enforce traffic, property code and other ordinances to raise revenue rather than solely to protect the public. And, as this report finds, a wide range of state…

Braiding Illinois

Economic Liberty | Hair Braiding | Occupational Licensing

Barriers to Braiding: Illinois Analysis

This report supplements our 2016 study Barriers to Braiding: How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape. That study investigated whether (1) braiding licenses keep people out of work…

cover of fines and fee report

Code Enforcement | Fines and Fees | Private Property

The Price of Taxation by Citation

Taxation by citation is when local governments use their power to enforce traffic and other ordinances to raise revenue rather than solely to protect the public. This report explores the phenomenon via case studies of…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Fighting Crime or Raising Revenue?

Forfeiture is a controversial tool governments use to take and keep property often without charging or convicting anyone with a crime. Police typically get a portion of the proceeds. Proponents argue forfeiture helps police fight…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Forfeiture in Arizona

In 2017, Arizona adopted incremental but important bipartisan reforms of the state’s civil forfeiture system. These reforms included new transparency requirements for forfeiture, obliging agencies to report the value, type and date of a property…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Civil Forfeiture, Crime Fighting and Safeguards for the Innocent

In 2017, the Department of Justice revived a controversial federal forfeiture program the previous administration had sharply curtailed. In defense of these “adoptive forfeitures” or “adoptions,” as well as of civil forfeiture in general, the…

Economic Liberty | Food Freedom

Ready to Roll

Most states have “cottage food laws,” which regulate the sale of homemade foods. The specifics vary from state to state, but most such laws restrict the types of homemade foods that may be sold. Research…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

At What Cost?

Not only do state occupational licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and money earning a license instead of earning a living, they also impose real economic costs. This study takes advantage…

Economic Liberty | Transportation

Regulatory Overdrive

Traditional taxis are highly regulated in most American cities, with local regulators determining everything from how many taxis can be licensed to the types of services they can provide to the fares they can charge…

Economic Liberty | Vending

A Golden Opportunity for the Golden State

California’s sidewalk vendors face a patchwork of arbitrary and anticompetitive rules that make it difficult—or even impossible—to ply their chosen trade and share in the prosperity of the United States’ largest economy. Now the California…

Economic Liberty | Food Freedom

Flour Power

All across the country, thousands of Americans are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form the small but growing “cottage food” industry. With renewed interest in this age-old industry, laws…

Economic Liberty | Private Property

Finding the American Dream at Home

Across the country, millions of enterprising people are running businesses out of their homes. This report outlines the myriad benefits of home-based businesses and suggests that government regulations curtailing them are short-sighted. It details how…

License to Work 2

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

License to Work 2

License to Work, 2nd Edition Published in 2017, this is an older edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report. You can download the report and read about data improvements we made between the first…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Forfeiture Transparency & Accountability

Every year, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies across the United States seize and keep billions of dollars in cash, cars, homes and other property using a legal tool called forfeiture. Criminal forfeiture requires…

Putting Licensing to the Test

Economic Liberty | First Amendment | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech

Putting Licensing to the Test

More Americans than ever need a license to work. But what do occupational licenses actually accomplish? This case study of one such license adds to a growing body of research that suggests this red tape…

Economic Liberty | Hair Braiding

Barriers to Braiding

African-style hair braiding is a time-tested and natural craft. Yet most states force braiders to get a government license and take hundreds or even thousands of hours of classes to work legally. This study finds…

Educational Choice | Tax Credit Scholarships

On Common Constitutional Ground

Launched in 2008, Georgia’s scholarship tax credit program will help over 13,000 children get the best education for their needs at secular and religious private schools this year. But in 2014 school choice opponents sued…

Civil Forfeiture | Private Property

Policing for Profit: Second Edition

Policing for Profit, 2nd Edition Published in 2015, this is an older edition of IJ’s landmark Policing for Profit report. You can download the report here, but please see the third and current edition for the most up-to-date…