Occupational Licensing Hurts Poor and Restricts Innovation and Worker Mobility
(p. A31) In the 1970s, about 10 percent of individuals who worked had to have licenses, but by 2008, almost 30 percent of the work force needed them.
With this explosion of licensing laws has come a national patchwork of stealth regulation that has, among other things, restricted labor markets, innovation and worker mobility.
. . .
Occupational licensing, moreover, does nothing to close the inequality gap in the United States. For consumers, there is likely to be a redistribution effect in the "wrong" direction, as higher income consumers have more choice among higher quality purveyors of a service and lower income individuals are left with fewer affordable service options.
. . . , government-issued licenses largely protect occupations from competition. Conservatives often see members of the regulated occupation supporting licensing laws under claims of "public health and safety." However, these laws do much more to stop competition and less to enhance the quality of the service.
Also, all consumers do not demand the same level of quality. If licensure "improves quality" by restricting entry into the profession, then some consumers will be forced to pay for more "quality" than they want or need. Not everyone wants a board-licensed hairdresser.
For the full commentary, see:
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date MAY 28, 2014.)
Kleiner's most recent book on occupational licensing is:
Kleiner, Morris M. Stages of Occupational Regulation: Analysis of Case Studies. Kalamazoo, Michigan: W.E. Upjohn Institute, 2013.