Multi-Solving, Trade-Offs, and Conditionalities in Industrial Policy
New York, NY — The reemergence of industrial policy—from the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to the CHIPS and Science Act to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)—has sparked debate among economic commentators about how we can design industrial policy to serve multiple societal goals.
A new Roosevelt Institute brief, “Multi-Solving, Trade-Offs, and Conditionalities in Industrial Policy,” proposes that a holistic, multi-solving framework is necessary for comprehensively understanding the systemic and intersectional impacts of industrial policies. Authored by Isabel Estevez, deputy director, Industrial Policy and Trade, the brief further argues that this framework can serve as a prerequisite for preventing and minimizing trade-offs, maximizing social progress, and honestly identifying what societal goals are sacrificed for the sake of others.
“We have an urgent responsibility to correct our historic practice of designing economic policies that routinely sacrifice the health and well-being of Black and Indigenous communities and other racially and socioeconomically marginalized groups,” said Estevez. “Without an exhaustive mapping of societal challenges and goals, policymakers operate without the clear normative and analytical framework necessary for comprehensively analyzing the problems that policies seek to address. It’s time to change that.”
The brief introduces practical tools for trade-off analysis and resolution and explains how policymakers can use a range of industrial policy conditionalities—from labor and accountability standards to guardrails against worker exploitation and environmental injustice—to better align government action with a range of societal objectives.
“With the right frameworks in place, I believe policymakers can prevent the deepening of existing inequities and promote more impactful implementation of industrial policy legislation,” Estevez said. “Moreover, the use of conditionalities to enable multi-solving will likely prove vital to the sustainability of emerging industrial policies. If they lack robust standards and guardrails, they risk alienating critical social actors like the labor and environmental justice movements.”