Unexpectedly Intriguing!
31 January 2017

With President Trump's response to the role of red bureaucratic tape in hampering small business just in the news, we thought we'd take a historic look at how many pages of new rules and regulations the federal government spits out every year.

Or rather, in each year beginning with 1936, because that's all as far back as we could find the data! The chart below visualizes what we found for more than 80 years worth of federal regulations, and as you can see, it ends with a bang!

Number of Pages of Regulations Added to the Federal Register Each Year, 1936-2016

With the exception of the period of World War 2, we find that the federal government used to be pretty well contained when it came to imposing new rules and regulations on the American people - at least, all the way up to 1970, when it appears to have undergone a bureaucratic explosion!

Here, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency appears to have been the impetus for unleashing unprecedented waves of new rules and regulations affecting nearly every aspect of American life all throughout the next decade.

That changed in the 1980s, as the number of new rules and regulations being issued each year was brought under control. In the 1990s though, the number of federal regulations began creeping steadily upward until 2000, after which, the number of pages of regulations published in the Federal Register each year began to grow much more slowly, which lasted through 2015.

And then, they went *BOOM* in the last year of Barack Obama's term in office, as the lame duck President sought to crank out as much of an enduring legacy as he could in his administration's waning days by publishing 96,994 pages worth of regulations in the Federal Register in 2016. Many of which were rushed into print to beat the clock after his preferred successor, Hillary Clinton, failed to win the 2016 Presidential election.

Since President Trump's Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs requires government agencies to remove two regulations for every one new regulation that they issue, and because those changes would also have to be documented, we wonder how many future pages of the Federal Register might be taken up by the corresponding reductions in the federal government's regulation of the American people.

Update: President Obama's 2016 regulation rush continued well into 2017, where the Federal Register expanded by an additional 7,600+ pages before he finally exited the Oval Office on 20 January 2017 and President Trump acted to shut off the regulatory spigot.

Data Sources

Crews, Wayne. Ten Thousand Commandments. Federal Register Pages, 1936-2011 [Google Docs Spreadsheet]. Accessed 24 July 2012.

Crews, Wayne. Ten Thousand Commandments. Federal Regulation - The Updates. Accessed 30 January 2017.

Previously on Political Calculations

Political Calculations. The Regulation of the American People. [Online Article]. 25 July 2012.

Labels: ,

About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

Recent Posts

Stock Charts and News

Most Popular Posts
Quick Index

Site Data

This site is primarily powered by:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

CSS Validation

Valid CSS!

RSS Site Feed

AddThis Feed Button


The tools on this site are built using JavaScript. If you would like to learn more, one of the best free resources on the web is available at W3Schools.com.

Other Cool Resources

Blog Roll

Market Links

Useful Election Data
Charities We Support
Shopping Guides
Recommended Reading
Recently Shopped

Seeking Alpha Certified

Legal Disclaimer

Materials on this website are published by Political Calculations to provide visitors with free information and insights regarding the incentives created by the laws and policies described. However, this website is not designed for the purpose of providing legal, medical or financial advice to individuals. Visitors should not rely upon information on this website as a substitute for personal legal, medical or financial advice. While we make every effort to provide accurate website information, laws can change and inaccuracies happen despite our best efforts. If you have an individual problem, you should seek advice from a licensed professional in your state, i.e., by a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case.