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Research: More Occupational Licensing = Less Interstate Migration

Thanks to JLF board member Ted Hicks for pointing us Bloomberg, which summarizes a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research about the impact of forcing people to apply for and obtain a state license before they can earn a living in their chosen field and/or with their particular skill:

Between-state migration has fallen off a cliff in the U.S., and an uptick in occupational licensing is one culprit driving the trend, according to this working paper by the University of Minnesota’s Janna Johnson and Morris Kleiner. Between-state migration for individuals in occupations with state-specific licensing exam requirements is 36 percent lower relative to members of other occupations, based the analysis. Even after accounting for the fact that state-licensed professionals may have clientele and network-based reasons for seeking stability, the relative migration of state-licensed occupations is 16 percent lower than for those that require a national test.

Our Jon Sanders has written extensively about North Carolina’s licensing regime. Here’s an example from his  recent analysis in which he explains why the data shows that thieves might want stricter licensing.


Donna Martinez / Senior Writer and Editor

Donna came to the John Locke Foundation in January 2003 after freelance writing for Carolina Journal and contributing to projects for the North Carolina Education Alliance. He...