Economic Liberty Research Reports

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Raising Barriers, Not Quality

This study tests claims that occupational licenses make consumers better off by screening out workers likely to provide inferior service. Comparing Yelp ratings for service providers in neighboring states with different licensing regimes, this study…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Too Many Licenses

In recent decades, states have enacted occupational licensing laws covering a growing number of jobs, and now more American workers than ever must get a license to work. But do we need these new licenses?…

Economic Liberty

Barriers to Business

Too often entrepreneurs struggle with local regulatory burdens, finding themselves trapped by high fees, long wait times, and complex paperwork.

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

Cosmetology is one of the most widely and onerously regulated occupations for lower-income workers, yet little research has explored the experiences of aspiring beauty workers. This first-of-its-kind study takes advantage of federal educational…

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Beauty School Debt and Drop-Outs

A January 2021 executive order requires Utah executive agencies to identify occupational regulations that are no longer necessary or can be reined in to reduce barriers to entry. One regulation that should be on the table is cosmetology…

Barred From Working

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Barred From Working

Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for ex-offenders to find work, thwarting their chances of successful reentry.

Braiding Illinois

Economic Liberty | Hair Braiding

Barriers to Braiding: Illinois Analysis

This report supplements our 2016 study Barriers to Braiding: How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape. That study investigated whether (1) braiding licenses keep people out of work…

Economic Liberty | Food Freedom

The relationship between cottage food laws and business outcomes

The increasing popularity of cottage foods in the United States requires that state laws regulating the industry be given careful consideration. However, little is known about cottage food producers or their businesses. This article discusses…

Economic Liberty | Food Freedom

Ready to Roll

Most states have “cottage food laws,” which regulate the sale of homemade foods. The specifics vary from state to state, but most such laws restrict the types of homemade foods that may be sold. Research…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

At What Cost

Not only do state occupational licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and money earning a license instead of earning a living, they also impose real economic costs. This study takes advantage…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

The Continuing Burden of Occupational Licensing in the United States

This study follows up an earlier study in which we examined the scope and burden of 102 occupational licensing laws in the United States for low‐ and moderate‐income occupations. Using data collected in 2017, findings…

Economic Liberty | Transportation

Regulatory Overdrive

Traditional taxis are highly regulated in most American cities, with local regulators determining everything from how many taxis can be licensed to the types of services they can provide to the fares they can charge…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

You’ll Need a License for That Job

In 2013, Heather Kokesch Del Castillo found herself in an unfulfilling career and began to question whether she was following her true passion. At the same time, she was growing increasingly dissatisfied with her physical…

Economic Liberty | Vending

A Golden Opportunity for the Golden State

California’s sidewalk vendors face a patchwork of arbitrary and anticompetitive rules that make it difficult—or even impossible—to ply their chosen trade and share in the prosperity of the United States’ largest economy. Now the California…

Economic Liberty | Food Freedom

Flour Power

All across the country, thousands of Americans are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form the small but growing “cottage food” industry. With renewed interest in this age-old industry, laws…

Economic Liberty | Private Property

Finding the American Dream at Home

Across the country, millions of enterprising people are running businesses out of their homes. This report outlines the myriad benefits of home-based businesses and suggests that government regulations curtailing them are short-sighted. It details how…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

License to Work

Today, more Americans than ever must get a government permission slip before they can earn an honest living, thanks to the spread of occupational licensing laws. Licensing laws now guard entry into hundreds of occupations,…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

The Inverted Pyramid

When it comes to occupational regulation, policymakers may see their options as action or inaction: licensing or no licensing. In fact, policymakers can choose from a plethora of alternatives that provide the purported benefits of…

Economic Liberty

Opportunity Lost

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his “administration is committed to creating the conditions and opportunities that will allow this industry [food trucks] to thrive, create jobs and support a vibrant food culture across…

Putting Licensing to the Test

Commercial Speech | First Amendment | Occupational Licensing

Putting Licensing to the Test

More Americans than ever need a license to work. But what do occupational licenses actually accomplish? This case study of one such license adds to a growing body of research that suggests this red tape…

Occupations: A Hierarchy of Regulatory Options

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Occupations: A Hierarchy of Regulatory Options

Momentum is growing in favor of reining in excessive occupational licensing. However, policymaking in this arena is too often plagued by assumptions that the only regulatory options are no licensing or full licensing. Such binary…

Open for Business

Economic Liberty

Open for Business

Throughout the nation, cities and counties are looking for ways to promote economic liberty and improve the well-being of their residents But all too often this desire to improve economic conditions manifests itself in expensive…

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty | Hair Braiding | Occupational Licensing

Barriers to Braiding

African-style hair braiding is a time-tested and natural craft. Yet most states force braiders to get a government license and take hundreds or even thousands of hours of classes to work legally. This study finds…

Upwardly Mobile

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing | Vending

Upwardly Mobile

As old as the country itself, American street vending has never been more prominent. It’s the subject of television shows, think pieces and—less happily—burdensome regulations in cities nationwide. Yet hard data about vendors and their…