Occupational Licensing Research Reports

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

License to Work 3

This third edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report finds that for lower-income Americans, licensing continues to be widespread, burdensome and—frequently—irrational. It also provides a blueprint for meaningful licensing reform.

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?…

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 | Occupational Licensing

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 | 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 | 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 | 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…

License to Work 2

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

License to Work 2

License to Work, 2nd Edition Published in 2017, this is an older edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report. You can download the report and read about data improvements we made between the first…

Putting Licensing to the Test

Economic Liberty | First Amendment | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech

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…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Boards Behaving Badly

In a nutshell, states should: Charge an independent “licensing ombudsman” with reviewing the actions of state licensing boards; Charge the licensing ombudsman with a mandate to promote economic competition; Make the ombudsman responsible for conducting…

Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty | Food Freedom | Hair Braiding | Occupational Licensing | Transportation | Vending

Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide

You have the right to earn an honest living. This is called “economic liberty” and it is protected by the U.S. Constitution. But often, entrepreneurs face burdensome, arbitrary and anti-competitive laws that make it difficult,…

Cosmetology | Economic Liberty | Hair Braiding | Occupational Licensing

Untangling Regulations

Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many African, African-American and immigrant communities in the United States. But braiders in many states have to endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing | Teeth Whitening

White Out

As the teeth-whitening industry has exploded in recent years, so too has the push for laws and regulations that enable licensed dentists and hygienists to capture a greater share of that market by banning anyone…

License to Work 1

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

License to Work 1

License to Work, 1st Edition Published in 2012, this is an older edition of IJ’s landmark License to Work report. You can download the report here, but please see the third and current edition…

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Who’s Misleading Whom? Defining Titles in Occupations ‘On the Make’

Can occupational titles mislead the public? Should the use of titles be regulated to protect against such a possibility? Traditionally, occupational regulation is conceptualized as a restriction on the practice of an occupation through licensure,…

Blooming Nonsense

Economic Liberty | Occupational Licensing

Blooming Nonsense

For more than a decade, Monique Chauvin has owned and operated one of the most popular and recognized floral shops in all of New Orleans. Her work is regularly featured in magazines, and her store…

Designed to Exclude

Economic Liberty | First Amendment | Interior Design | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech

Designed to Exclude

Americans used to be free to practice interior design work and succeed or fail based solely on their skills. But, to the detriment of consumers and would-be entrepreneurs, that is changing. The American Society of…

Economic Liberty | First Amendment | Interior Design | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech

Designed to Mislead

Do people who design interiors “mislead” the public when they call themselves “interior designers” without government permission? Industry insiders advocating greater regulation say yes, but practicing interior designers who simply want to accurately describe what…

Economic Liberty | Interior Design | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech

Misinformation & Interior Design Regulation

This report responds to a purported rebuttal of the Institute for Justice’s research on interior design regulations and details how its author, an advocate of increased regulation, fails to provide any evidence of the need…

Designing Cartels

Economic Liberty | First Amendment | Interior Design | Occupational Licensing | Occupational Speech

Designing Cartels

This report examines titling laws, little-known regulations that require people practicing certain professions to gain government permission to use a specific title, such as “interior designer,” to describe their work. Although titling laws receive little…