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 thinking sees policymakers swayed by specious claims that licensing is necessary to protect public health and safety or to promote quality. It also ignores a whole range of alternatives between the two poles. This article offers a menu of policy options, from least to most intrusive, and elaborates a new approach to occupational regulation that favors freedom over paternalism. Before opting to create or preserve a licensing scheme, policymakers should consider all of their alternatives, and choose the least intrusive that will serve the public interest.

Related Cases

Related Reports

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…