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A Welfare Analysis of Occupational Licensing in U.S. States

Author

Listed:
  • Morris M. Kleiner
  • Evan J. Soltas

Abstract

We assess the welfare consequences of occupational licensing for workers and consumers. We estimate a model of labor market equilibrium in which licensing restricts labor supply but also affects labor demand via worker quality and selection. On the margin of occupations licensed differently between U.S. states, we find that licensing raises wages and hours but reduces employment. We estimate an average welfare loss of 12 percent of occupational surplus. Workers and consumers respectively bear 70 and 30 percent of the incidence. Higher willingness to pay offsets 80 percent of higher prices for consumers, and higher wages compensate workers for 60 percent of the cost of mandated investment in occupation-specific human capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Morris M. Kleiner & Evan J. Soltas, 2019. "A Welfare Analysis of Occupational Licensing in U.S. States," Staff Report 590, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:87569
    DOI: 10.21034/sr.590
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Morris M. Kleiner & Allison Marier & Kyoung Won Park & Coady Wing, 2016. "Relaxing Occupational Licensing Requirements: Analyzing Wages and Prices for a Medical Service," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 261-291.
    3. Leland, Hayne E, 1979. "Quacks, Lemons, and Licensing: A Theory of Minimum Quality Standards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1328-1346, December.
    4. Adriana D. Kugler & Robert M. Sauer, 2005. "Doctors without Borders? Relicensing Requirements and Negative Selection in the Market for Physicians," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 437-466, July.
    5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, May.
    6. Edward J Timmons & Anna Mills, 2018. "Bringing the Effects of Occupational Licensing into Focus: Optician Licensing in the United States," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 44(1), pages 69-83, January.
    7. D. Mark Anderson & Ryan Brown & Kerwin Kofi Charles & Daniel I. Rees, 2016. "The Effect of Occupational Licensing on Consumer Welfare: Early Midwifery Laws and Maternal Mortality," NBER Working Papers 22456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 672-694, November.
    9. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Age and Experience Profiles of Earnings," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 64-82, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Peter Q. Blair & Bobby W. Chung, 2019. "How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 57(4), pages 919-943, December.
    11. Christina DePasquale & Kevin Stange, 2016. "Labor Supply Effects of Occupational Regulation: Evidence from the Nurse Licensure Compact," NBER Working Papers 22344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Peter Q. Blair & Bobby W. Chung, 2018. "How Much of Barrier to Entry is Occupational Licensing?," NBER Working Papers 25262, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Occupational licensing; Labor supply; Human capital; Welfare analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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