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Consumer Protection in an Online World: An Analysis of Occupational Licensing

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Listed:
  • Chiara Farronato
  • Andrey Fradkin
  • Bradley Larsen
  • Erik Brynjolfsson

Abstract

We study the effects of occupational licensing on consumer choices and market outcomes in a large online platform for residential home services. We exploit exogenous variation in the time at which licenses are displayed on the platform to identify the causal effects of licensing information on consumer choices. We find that the platform-verified licensing status of a professional is unimportant for consumer decisions relative to review ratings and prices. We confirm this result in an independent consumer survey. We also use variation in regulation stringency across states and occupations to measure the effects of licensing on aggregate market outcomes on the platform. Our results show that more stringent licensing regulations are associated with less competition and higher prices but not with any improvement in customer satisfaction as measured by review ratings or the propensity to use the platform again.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiara Farronato & Andrey Fradkin & Bradley Larsen & Erik Brynjolfsson, 2020. "Consumer Protection in an Online World: An Analysis of Occupational Licensing," NBER Working Papers 26601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26601
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timmons, Edward Joseph, 2017. "The effects of expanded nurse practitioner and physician assistant scope of practice on the cost of Medicaid patient care," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 189-196.
    2. Peter Blair & Bobby Chung, 2017. "Job Market Signaling through Occupational Licensing," Working Papers 2017-50, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Morris M. Kleiner, 2006. "Licensing Occupations: Ensuring Quality or Restricting Competition?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number lo, January-J.
    4. Traczynski, Jeffrey & Udalova, Victoria, 2018. "Nurse practitioner independence, health care utilization, and health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 90-109.
    5. Edward J. Timmons & Robert J. Thornton, 2010. "The Licensing of Barbers in the USA," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 48(4), pages 740-757, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Benson & Aaron Sojourner & Akhmed Umyarov, 2020. "Can Reputation Discipline the Gig Economy? Experimental Evidence from an Online Labor Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(5), pages 1802-1825, May.
    2. Jose Maria Barrero & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis, 2020. "COVID-19 Is Also a Reallocation Shock," Working Papers 2020-60, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    3. 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.
    4. Brian Meehan & E. Frank Stephenson, 2020. "Reducing a Barrier to Entry: The 120/150 CPA Licensing Rule," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 382-402, December.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L88 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Government Policy

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