Selected Publications

  • The Case for Ends Paternalism: Extending Le Grand and New’s Framework for Justification of Government Paternalism

    Dan Acland (2018), Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 5: No. 1, pp 1-22.

    Le Grand and New, in their recent book, “Government Paternalism: Nanny State or Helpful Friend,” present a novel definition of paternalism and a framework for thinking about whether any given paternalistic policy can be considered justifiable. I show that their framework is flawed in that it restricts justifiable paternalism to that which is intended to alter individuals’ judgment about the means they use to pursue their self-determined ends. I show that the principles they use to justify certain kinds of means paternalism also justify certain kinds of ends paternalism. In particular, when there is a body of rigorous social-science evidence that individuals select ends that they themselves, if they had adequate information or experience would prefer not to pursue, and when other conditions are met, ends paternalism may be considered to improve the wellbeing of the individual as determined by the individual themselves. I present examples of policies that could be justified under this framework, and offer cautionary notes.

  • CALIFORNIA’S AFFIRMATIVE ACTION FIGHT: Power Politics and the University of California

    This essay discusses the contentious events leading to the decision by the University of California’s Board of Regents to end affirmative action in admissions, hiring and contracting at the university in July 1995. This controversial decision provided momentum for California’s passage of Proposition 209 the following year ending “racial preferences” for all of the state’s public agencies. In virtually any other state, the debate over university admissions would have bled beyond the confines of a university’s governing board. The board would have deferred to lawmakers and an even more complicated public discourse. The University of California’s unusual status as a “public trust” under the state constitution, however, meant that authority over admissions was the sole responsibility of the board. This provided a unique forum to debate affirmative action for key actors, including Regent Ward Connerly and Governor Pete Wilson, to persuade fellow regents to focus and decide on a hotly debated social issue related to the dispersal of a highly sought public good – access to a selective public university. Two themes are explored. The first focuses on the debate within the university community and the vulnerability of existing affirmative action programs and policies - including a lack of unanimity among the faculty regarding the use of racial preferences. The second relates to the political tactics employed by Connerly and the saliency of his arguments, which were addressed to a larger public, and not to the academic community. Connerly attacked not only the idea of affirmative action but also the coherency of the university’s existing admissions programs, the effectiveness of using race in admissions decisions, and the credibility of the university’s administrative leaders who defended affirmative action.

  • THE RISE OF THE PUBLICS: American Democracy, the Public University Ideal, and the University of California

    In the post-Revolutionary War era, private institutions dominated America’s emerging higher education landscape, all tied to sectarian communities and often with limited forms of public financing. The United States could have sustained that dominance, essentially differing to the private sector in expanding access, and delaying the “rise of the publics.” This did not happen. A major turning point came in the mid-1800s. Private colleges seemed incapable or simply not interested in serving the broader needs of American society. Institutions such as the University of Virginia, and the new state universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, offered the first examples of a new institutional breed. Each was borne out of public debates regarding the purpose of public universities in a new nation, including the initial idea of a federal university. Out of this early period of institution building came important ideas on the potent role of higher education in shaping the American experiment, intimately linked with revolutionary ideas on human abilities and the requirements for creating a functioning, participatory democracy. By the mid-1800, state governments, with federal government prompting, launched a dramatic number of new public universities distinct in their governance, in their commitment to broad access, in the scope of their academic programs, and in their commitment to public service. This essay explores these debates and how they influenced institution building, with a focus on the establishment of the University of California by an act of the California legislature – the 1868 Organic Act. In its stated purpose, governance, and planned academic and professional programs, California’s Land-Grant University embodied all the elements of this new breed of public universities with the intent of shaping a progressive society.

    This year the University of California celebrates its 150 anniversary since establishment in 1868.  This ROPS contribution is part of a series published this year by the Center for Studies in Higher Education related to the history of the University of California and, more broadly, America’s unique investment and faith in public universities.

  • The Role of Universities in Economic Competitiveness in California

    Commissioned by the Associació Catalana d’Universitats Públiques (ACUP), this report provides a case study of the University of California’s (UC) role in helping to create a highly competitive economy and in a manner that may be of use in Catalonia. The report provides a discussion on the role of research universities as important players in larger innovation ecosystems, the economic impact of UC on California, specific examples of university-private sector engagement, and relevant UC policies that set what we call the “rules of engagement” that both encourage economic engagement and protect academic freedom and university autonomy.

  • When Does a Group of Citizens Influence Policy? Evidence from Senior Citizen Participation in City Politics

    Anzia, Sarah F. Forthcoming. “When Does a Group of Citizens Influence Policy?  Evidence from Senior Citizen Participation in City Politics.” Journal of Politics.

    When does a group of citizens influence public policy?  Mainstream American politics research emphasizes the importance of the group’s turnout and presence in the electorate, but there have been few empirical tests of those hypotheses.  Meanwhile, other scholars argue that group cohesiveness, organization, and non-voting political activity are potentially more important than voting for shaping policy.  These two strands of the literature have largely developed in parallel, however, in part because they tend to employ different empirical methods.  In this paper, I attempt to bridge the divide between them and test these ideas within the same empirical framework, using senior citizens and senior-friendly transportation policy as a test case.  My results show that senior voting does not unconditionally predict policies friendlier to seniors.  Instead, I find that city policies are friendlier to seniors when seniors are a more cohesive, meaningful group, and when they engage in activities other than voting.

  • Sustainable silicon photovoltaics manufacturing in a global market: A techno-​​economic, tariff and

    Solar photovoltaics (PV) manufacturing has experienced dramatic worldwide growth in recent years, enabling a reduction in module costs, and a higher adoption of these technologies. Continued sustainable price reductions, however, require strategies focused in further technological innovation, minimization of capital expenditures, and optimization of supply chain flows. We present a framework: Techno-economic Integrated Tool For Tariff And Transportation (TIT-4-TAT), that enables the study of these different strategies by coupling a techno-economic model with a tariff and transportation algorithm to optimize supply chain layouts for PV manufacturing under equally-weighted objectives.

    We demonstrate the use of this framework in a set of interacting countries (Mexico, China, USA, and Brazil) and two extreme tariff scenarios: no tariffs, and high tariff levels imposed. Results indicate that introducing tariffs between countries significantly increase the minimum sustainable price for solar PV manufacturing, alter the optimal manufacturing locations, and render a more expensive final solar PV module price which can hinder the adoption rates required to mitigate climate change. Recommendations for stakeholders on the optimization process, and techno-economic drivers are presented based on our results. This framework may be utilized by policymakers for the spatially-resolved planning of incentives, labor and manufacturing programs, and proper import tariff designs in the solar PV market.

  • Rooftop solar photovoltaic potential in cities: how scalable are assessment approaches?

    Distributed photovoltaics (PV) have played a critical role in the deployment of solar energy, currently making up roughly half of the global PV installed capacity. However, there remains significant unused economically beneficial potential. Estimates of the total technical potential for rooftop PV systems in the United States calculate a generation comparable to approximately 40% of the 2016 total national electric-sector sales. To best take advantage of the rooftop PV potential, effective analytic tools that support deployment strategies and aggressive local, state, and national policies to reduce the soft cost of solar energy are vital. A key step is the low-cost automation of data analysis and business case presentation for structure-integrated solar energy. In this paper, the scalability and resolution of various methods to assess the urban rooftop PV potential are compared, concluding with suggestions for future work in bridging methodologies to better assist policy makers.

  • Declaration of the Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility Climate Change, Air Pol

    With unchecked climate change and air pollution, the very fabric of life on Earth, including that of humans, is at grave risk. We propose scalable solutions to avoid such catastrophic changes. There is less than a decade to put these solutions in place to preserve our quality of life for generations to come. The time to act is now. We human beings are creating a new and dangerous phase of Earth’s history that has been termed the Anthropocene. The term refers to the immense effects of human activity on all aspects of the Earth’s physical systems and on life on the planet. We are dangerously warming the planet, leaving behind the climate in which civilization developed. With accelerating climate change, we put ourselves at grave risk of massive crop failures, new and re-emerging infectious diseases, heat extremes, droughts, mega-storms, floods and sharply rising sea levels. The economic activities that contribute to global warming are also wreaking other profound damages, including air and water pollution, deforestation, and massive land degradation, causing a rate of species extinction unprecedented for the past 65 million years, and a dire threat to human health through increases in heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, mental health, infections and cancer. Climate change threatens to exacerbate the current unprecedented flow of displacement of people and add to human misery by stoking violence and conflict. The poorest of the planet, who are still relying on 19th century technologies to meet basic needs such as cooking and heating, are bearing a heavy brunt of the damages caused by the economic activities of the rich. The rich too are bearing heavy costs of increased flooding, mega-storms, heat extremes, droughts and major forest fires. Climate change and air pollution strike down the rich and poor alike.