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Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Regulation

2019

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Occupational Licensing And The Limits Of Public Choice Theory, Gabriel Scheffler, Ryan Nunn Apr 2019

Occupational Licensing And The Limits Of Public Choice Theory, Gabriel Scheffler, Ryan Nunn

All Faculty Scholarship

Public choice theory has long been the dominant lens through which economists and other scholars have viewed occupational licensing. According to the public choice account, practitioners favor licensing because they want to reduce competition and drive up their own wages. This essay argues that the public choice account has been overstated, and that it ironically has served to distract from some of the most important harms of licensing, as well as from potential solutions. We emphasize three specific drawbacks of this account. First, it is more dismissive of legitimate threats to public health and safety than the research warrants. Second, …