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

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  • 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," NBER Working Papers 26383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26383
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    Cited by:

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    2. Mengjie Lyu & Tingting Zhang & Hua Ye, 2023. "Labour market impacts of occupational licensing and delicensing: New evidence from China," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 61(4), pages 895-921, December.
    3. Dodini, Samuel, 2023. "The spillover effects of labor regulations on the structure of earnings and employment: Evidence from occupational licensing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 225(C).
    4. Bruno Deffains & Dominique Demougin, 2023. "Capitation taxes and the regulation of professional services," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 167-193, April.
    5. Gaetano Basso & Eleonora Brandimarti & Michele Pellizzari & Giovanni Pica, 2021. "Quality and Selection in Regulated Professions," Development Working Papers 467, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    6. Riley Wilson, 2023. "The Isolated States of America: Home State Bias and the Impact of State Borders on Mobility," CESifo Working Paper Series 10724, CESifo.
    7. Riley Wilson, 2021. "Isolated States of America: The Impact of State Borders on Mobility and Regional Labor Market Adjustments," Upjohn Working Papers 21-358, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    8. Rostam-Afschar Davud, 2020. "Inklusive Beschäftigungspolitik: Fakten, Herausforderungen und neue Ideen zur Regulierung von Berufen," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 69(2), pages 129-139, August.
    9. Bruhn, Jesse & Imberman, Scott & Winters, Marcus, 2022. "Regulatory arbitrage in teacher hiring and retention: Evidence from Massachusetts Charter Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 215(C).
    10. Kihwan Bae & Edward Timmons, 2023. "Now You Can Take It with You: Effects of Occupational Credential Recognition on Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 23-03, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    11. Peter Q. Blair & Bobby W. Chung, 2021. "Informed Choices: A Model of Occupational Licensing and Statistical Discrimination," Upjohn Working Papers 21-351, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    12. Xia, Xing, 2021. "Barrier to Entry or Signal of Quality? The Effects of Occupational Licensing on Minority Dental Assistants," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C).
    13. Wilson, Riley, 2022. "The Isolated States of America: Home State Bias, State Identity, and the Impact of State Borders on Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 15193, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General

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