New research finds that federal regulation leads to an increase in deaths, and North Carolina is one of the states most affected.

Days before President-elect Joe Biden enters office, Mercatus Center economists James Broughel and Dustin Chambers released a study arguing that the connection between regulation and mortality rates may be causal. The Democratic Biden will likely be keen to follow party philosophy and reimplement many of the federal regulations the outgoing president got rid of during his administration. 

Broughel and Chambers note that the proposed regulations intend to make Americans safer in their homes, the workplace and the environment. Some produce that outcome, but overall, they found those regulations actually caused more deaths.

Fuel efficiency regulations, for example, have led to automakers making smaller vehicles, which are more hazardous to their drivers in accidents. Department of Homeland Security regulations have increased the cost of airfare, inducing more people to drive, which leads to more traffic accidents. The authors found that increased regulations usually hit Americans in the pocketbook. The drop in disposable income often leads to less individual spending on health care.

“If individual expenditures on health are at all effective at reducing mortality risk and if regulatory costs are sizable, it follows that regulatory costs induce some deaths,” Broughel and Chambers wrote.

The researchers found the mortality rate is higher in Southern states because of the hit to the pocketbooks due to average income in the South that’s largely less than other parts of the U.S.

The study used various health conditions such as diabetes, neonatal disorders, and cardiovascular maladies to create a mortality index and determine the states most impacted by regulations. North Carolina ranked 11th on that metric.

The states with the five highest mortality index scores, in order, were Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arkansas. The five lowest were Hawaii, California, Florida, Minnesota and Arizona. 

Overall, a 1%  increase in federal regulations increases the mortality index by between 0.53% and 1.35%, the study found.

Broughel and Chambers argue that regulatory agencies should calculate the expected fatalities induced by a new regulation and compare it to expected lives saved to form a mortality risk analysis before moving forward with changes.

“Reporting this information should be a routine part of regulatory impact analysis,” they wrote.

Johnny Kampis is a freelance writer for Carolina Journal.