Members of the PPI Student Group and students who receive funding from Penn Wharton PPI for Public Policy Internships regularly write on topics related to economics and public policy. The articles highlight the student perspective on topics at the intersection of economics, business, and public policy. The views expressed on the Student Blog are the author’s opinions and don’t necessarily represent the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s strategies, recommendations, or opinions.
Decades ago, the answer would have been yes. This was primarily due to concern over the widespread use of drugs and the desire of policy makers to stop drug use from spreading across the country. But in more recent years, a highly polarized debate has risen over the value and the impact of mass incarceration as light has been shed on the nation’s overpopulated prison system. Policy makers today recognize that the rapidly expanding penal system initiatives in the 1980s and the 1990s have imposed fiscal burdens and intangible social costs ultimately producing discord between government officials and civil liberty bodies. With an administration change and new directives from the U.S. Department of Justice, the future of the prison system has all sides of the issue questioning what is next for the staggering prison population.
Are Populism and Globalization Mutually Exclusive? How geopolitical trade partnerships could help protect America’s economic success
The US is currently leading the world with a new rise of populism centered around ‘putting America first’. Some have interpreted this as a desire to withdraw from the global stage. However, remaining active in global partnerships, treaties, and geopolitical trade may be the best way to insure America’s national security and economic success.
Expansion of Private Flood Insurance – Caution on Making the National Flood Insurance Program the Insurer of Last Resort
Since 1978, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has enlisted private insurers, with their market presence, to sell and service policies under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
One out of every 13 households in the United States lives without a checking or saving account. The lack of access to traditional banking services makes millions of households turn to alternative financial services that charge exorbitant fees, leaving the unbanked and underbanked trapped in a cycle of poverty. Improved financial literacy among low-income consumers and the introduction of affordable products from private banks are necessary to increase banking participation and democratize access to basic banking services.
During the 2016 election and the following months, the Dodd-Frank Act received a lot of attention from Republicans and Democrats alike. While the parties disagree over the necessity of the Dodd-Frank Act, there is no doubt that it has strongly impacted the banking and financial services industry. As the act comes under fire from President Trump and Congressional Republicans, the main question now is whether this transformation is permanent, or as many current Republicans have promised, just a temporary blip in the history of banking regulations.
The Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus revisits an original PACER agreement signed in 2001. This original PACER agreement existed as Australia and New Zealand’s response to the Pacific Island exclusive Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), also signed in 2001, in an effort to include themselves in a free trade agreement with the region. Since April 20th of this year, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have refused to sign the finalized agreement, indicating that regional interests have not been equally represented.
The advent of the Internet has led to the proliferation of technology startups in the United States, be it Uber, AirBnb or Snap. With buzzwords like “block chain”, “sharing economy”, “3D-printing”, “artificial intelligence”, “gene therapy” and more, it appears we live in an age of perpetual innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the pace of innovation in the United States, by some metrics, has stagnated over the last decade.
Since the conclusion of World War II, the United States has maintained largely unquestioned global hegemony, in part due to the vast technological and organizational superiority of its armed forces. The specter of American military might has long cast a protective shadow over the United States and its allies, limiting the inclination of foreign governments and agents to provoke the ire of American weaponry. Military innovation, however, hasn’t been a chance occurrence; whenever potential foes develop advanced military capabilities, defense leaders have pursued “offset strategies” to foster innovation and secure U.S. superiority.
Undocumented immigration and the state of border control have always been politically relevant topics. However, given U.S. President Trump’s campaign focus on border security, the issue has garnered special national attention this past election cycle. The population of undocumented immigrants has risen steadily over recent years, remaining the same from 2009 to 2014 at 11.1 million and accounting for roughly 3.5% of the total US population. 
Donald Trump has made no secret of his intentions to shake up American relations with the world. Verbal exchanges, including a tweet from the President’s first week in office that prompted Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel their first meeting as heads of state, have brought the historically strong relationship to a tremendous low.  However, proposals from the Trump administration have officials from both states concerned about more than just words. Trump’s executive order for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and a proposed 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico will have serious effects on production and trade in North America.