Policy Documents

Economic Growth and Right-to-Work Laws

Michael Hicks and Michael LaFaive –
August 28, 2013

Michigan’s new right-to-work law has reignited several debates about whether or not such policies are beneficial to states that adopt them. Casual observers, journalists and policy pundits have tried to weigh in on the impact that right-to-work laws have on everything from the ability of unions to organize to state-to-state migration to changes in economic growth rates.

Academic scholars, too, have examined such laws in great detail and from seemingly innumerable angles. This study aims to measure the impact of right-to-work laws on states’ economic performance. It uses average annual growth rates in employment, real (inflation-adjusted) personal income and population to measure the economic well-being of right-to-work states. On the whole, the results of this analysis show that right-to-work laws have a statistically significant and economically meaningful positive impact, although the results vary.