Eli Dourado


I have profiles at the Mercatus Center and on Google Scholar that list a lot of my research. Below is an assortment of my work with some commentary.

My latest project is on legalizing supersonic flight. Sam Hammond and I wrote “Make America Boom Again” to make the detailed case that supersonic flight can and should be legalized over the United States. Vox did a great write-up of the issue covering our paper. Earlier, Sam and I also wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the topic. Sam also created the site supersonicmyths.com to support our research.

With Raymond Russell, I wrote “Airport Noise NIMBYism: An Empirical Investigation.” We show that at numerous large airports around the country, a huge fraction of complaints about noise come from a handful of individuals. The paper got a lot of media attention, for example at WAMU and the Denver Post.

Sam Hammond and I published “Do Consumer Drones Endanger the National Airspace? Evidence from Wildlife Strike Data.” This paper takes a look at 25 years of wildlife strike data—that is, records of aircraft colliding with birds and other animals. We show that small birds—and therefore, small drones—pose little threat to the airspace. The FAA’s requirement to register drones as small as 250g is a bit of overkill. Sam and I presented this paper at a research conference at NASA, which effectively makes us astronauts.

With Chris Koopman, I wrote a short policy brief entitled, “Evaluating the Growth of the 1099 Workforce.” We analyzed some data that we FOIAed from the IRS to show that the increase in contract work many attribute to the sharing economy actually began as early as 2000, long before companies like Uber and Airbnb were founded.

Public Choice Perspectives on Intellectual Property”, coauthored with Alex Tabarrok, was published in Public Choice. The gist of the paper is that the standard case for intellectual property—that a temporary monopoly is needed in order to recoup the sunk costs of innovation or creation—ignores issues raised by both Virginia and Bloomington schools of Public Choice. The paper was cited in the Wall Street Journal.

Jerry Brito and I wrote the entry for cryptocurrency in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. We explain the basic problems that Bitcoin and other new cryptocurrencies are trying to solve and then discuss the unique economic questions that they raise.

Why the Cybersecurity Framework Will Make Us Less Secure,” written with Andrea Castillo, explains why the Cybersecurity Framework will make us less secure. The real problem, we argue, is not the specific rules that the Framework adopts, which are for now, in any case, voluntary, but the idea that cybersecurity is something that should be centrally planned with a government-led framework in the first place. This paper received a lot of press; here is one story.

I contributed a chapter to Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive to Excess, edited by Jerry Brito. My chapter is about how the New York Times paywall represents a weaker and more informal view of copyright enforcement.

Do High International Telecom Rates Buy Telecom Sector Growth: An Empirical Investigation of the Sender-Pays Rule” uses data from international telephone calls from 1992-2010 to show that Internet data transfer fees are unlikely to be used to finance growth in Internet infrastructure in the developing world. A write-up in Ars Technica.

My working paper, “Internet Security without Law: How Service Providers Create Order Online” documents the informal institutions that incentivize ISPs to take action against malware, even though they have no formal legal liability for the damage it causes. Internet governance is pretty anarchical, and this is my first stab at writing about that fact.

Is there a Cybersecurity Market Failure?” is a readable primer on public economics for people interested in cybersecurity and tech policy more generally.

In September 2011 I traveled to Rwanda with the Legatum Institute to learn about its economic experience in the post-genocide period. Along with Dalibor Rohac and Hemal Shah, I wrote “Six Questions You Always Wanted to Ask about Africa, and Answers from Rwanda” to report our findings. Our study was written up in The Economist.