What It Is:
How It Works/Example:
The transportation industry is one of the most famous industries to feel the effects of deregulation. In 1887, Congress established the Interstate
The inefficiency imposed by regulation and its focus on helping companies more than consumers became very apparent once the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 deregulated the trucking industry. The number of carriers nearly doubled in the four years after the legislation, freight rates fell as much as 20% in one year, overall industry wages fell, and many inefficient companies went out of business.
A similar situation occurred in the airline industry, which was regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) until 1978. Like the ICC, the CAB issued licenses, set fares, and regulated where carriers did business. The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 eliminated these constraints, and the airline industry quickly expanded in employment, miles flown, and number of passengers.
Why It Matters:
Like most economic policy, deregulation is controversial. Most economists agree that deregulation lowers an industry's barriers to entry and generally increases efficiency, competition, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Established producers have less control over competitors in a deregulated environment. Deregulation also benefits the broader economy because it no longer requires taxpayers to support the regulatory agency's overhead.
Overall, deregulation tends to increase choices and lower prices for consumers. In some cases, however, deregulation can be damaging to consumers, especially when natural monopolies are involved (such as electric utilities or other situations with immense infrastructure or technical needs). Some also point out that the elimination of weaker competitors in a deregulated environment means the loss of jobs.