This study—and copious other research—suggests many licenses are unnecessary or unnecessarily burdensome. To rein in licensing, or at least mitigate some of its negative effects, there are several strategies policymakers can employ:
The most direct way to free workers and entrepreneurs from licensing red tape is to repeal and reduce needless barriers.
Outside of repealing licenses, the best way to mitigate licensing’s negative effects is to stop adopting new licenses unless they are shown, with high-quality evidence, to protect public health and safety.
In addition to considering whether occupations should be licensed, and, if so, how burdensomely, policymakers should pay close attention to “scope of practice.”
As License to Work amply illustrates, licensing requirements vary widely across states. And even when they do not, boards are often reluctant to recognize credentials issued by other states.
A final reform strategy targets a population particularly disadvantaged by licensing restrictions: people with criminal records.
Importantly, while this report focuses on a sample of lower-income occupations, these strategies can help states implement evidence-based reforms for occupational licenses beyond those we study here.