A Brief History of Occupational Licensing

5 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2017 Last revised: 28 Jul 2017

Date Written: May 23, 2017


The arc of history has tended toward the licensing of an ever-larger number of professions. Today, a number of them—such as barbers, bartenders, and florists—are subject to licensing requirements even though the regulated activities do not bear even a remote relation to protection of the life, health, and safety of community members. Licensing individuals before allowing them to claim that they are “able to heal, cure or relieve those suffering from any injury, deformity or disease” makes sense, but today’s licensing regimes prohibit individuals, sometimes on pain of criminal liability, from engaging in conduct that poses no risk of harm to any person or to the community. Such a regime causes injury rather than protecting against it.

Keywords: occupational licensing, licensing

Suggested Citation

Larkin, Jr., Paul James, A Brief History of Occupational Licensing (May 23, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3008600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3008600

Paul James Larkin, Jr. (Contact Author)

The Heritage Foundation ( email )

214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002-4999
United States
202-608-6190 (Phone)

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