Is This Working? The Effects of Occupational Licensing on the Workforce


A transcript of this event is available here.

Having a job — any job — is connected to lower poverty, better income mobility, lower crime rates, fewer children born out-of-wedlock and a host of other positive results. But today the right to earn a living is becoming more difficult. In 1950, only around 5 percent of workers needed an occupational license – today, more than 20 percent of workers in Michigan are required to have this special government permission to work. Licensing requirements typically include mandated educational degrees, hours of training, upfront fees, testing, continuing education and more.

But reform may be coming. The Obama and Trump administrations have both focused on licensing rules, working to encourage states to lessen the burden. Research from scholars across the political spectrum are in agreement that these regulations stifle innovation, raise prices, reduce the number of jobs, encourage income inequality and raise incarceration rates. This event will feature three scholars talking about their research on occupational licensing and what lawmakers and citizens should consider when thinking about the issue.


Rebecca Haw Allensworth is a professor at Vanderbilt Law School, where she researches the legal and regulatory infrastructure of occupational licensing. Her work explores the antitrust implications of professional self-regulation, and identifies the role courts can play in balancing health and safety justifications against the anticompetitive potential that inheres whenever competitors set their own rules of play.

Stephen Slivinski is a senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University. He formerly held the position of senior economist at the Goldwater Institute, research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and senior editor in the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. His specialties include studying the damaging burdens that occupational licensing places on immigrant entrepreneurs, low-income entrepreneurs and those with a criminal record.

Edward Timmons is associate professor of economics and director of the Knee Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at Saint Francis University. His research on the effects of occupational licensing has been published in The Journal of Law and Economics, the Journal of Labor Research, the British Journal of Industrial Relations, Health Policy, Monthly Labor Review and Eastern Economic Journal. His research has been heavily cited by the popular press, the Federal Trade Commission, the Obama White House and also in a Senate hearing titled “License to Compete: Occupational Licensing and the State Action Doctrine.”

Lunch is free for attendees who RSVP. Please register online here

WHEN: Wednesday, January 24, 2018
  11:30 a.m.: Check-in and lunch available
  Noon to 1:00 p.m.: Program with Q&A
WHERE: Radisson at the Capitol
  111 N Grand Ave
  Lansing, MI 48933

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact us at 989-698-1905 or


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