The Impact of Potential Labor Supply on Licensing Exam Difficulty in the US Market for Lawyers
This paper provides the first empirical evidence of a positive impact of the quality and number of potential entrants on entry requirements in professional markets. The estimated effects are so large that increases in the quality of candidates are completely offset by increases in exam difficulty and therefore do not lead to any long run increase in the number of successful candidates. Variations in the number of candidates are also significantly (but not completely) offset by changes in exam difficulty. About one third of the additional candidates that otherwise would have passed the examination fail because of the increase in standards. These results are not in line with public interest theory of licensing. The classic rent seeking view of licensing can explain some (but not all) of the results.
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