by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
This week I went to Kansas to speak with their Senate and House Commerce Committees about occupational licensing. I was joined by Lee McGrath of the Institute for Justice, which produced one of the essential reports on the effects of occupational licensing, “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing.”
McGrath’s testimony included a discussion of how policymakers weren’t faced with a binary choice of either the very restrictive policy tool of licensing or nothing at all. (That would be quite the Hobson’s choice, wouldn’t it?) He explained that there is a wide range of options available to policymakers interested in responding to legitimate concerns but not interested in destroying occupational freedom in the process.
He used the following graph to illustrate that point. This graph appeared in IJ’s recent report “Boards Behaving Badly,” which drew lessons from last year’s Supreme Court decision in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC:
Source: Institute for Justice
Here is how McGrath defined the different levels (paraphrasing):
McGrath found it extremely rare that policymakers would need new occupational licenses. Licensing offers scant evidence of marginal consumer protection over a competitive labor market, but it imposes significant costs to workers and consumers.
For those interested in learning more about occupational licensing, I invite you to read the following two John Locke Foundation reports:
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