Research

PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS

 

"Occupational Licensing and the Earnings Premium in the United States: Updated Evidence from the Current Population Survey"

British Journal of Industrial Relations, 57(4) 732-763, December 2019. 

Using survey data from 2015-2018, this paper analyzes the occupational licensing wage premium in the United States. The estimates show a robust 4-6% wage differential for licensed workers. This premium is robust to careful control for location/local labor market effects and occupation effects. The premium is also positive for the majority of individual occupations and groups of occupations estimated. Similar results are found using additional techniques, including a matching estimator and an analysis of border metropolitan statistical areas. 

"The Effect of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on Mortality"

with Colleen M. Heflin and James P. Ziliak

Health Affairs, 38(11) 1807-1815, November 2019. 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest food assistance program in the United States and, while participation has been shown to reduce food insecurity, there is comparatively less clear causal evidence of positive health effects of participation, particularly among adults. We examine the relationship between SNAP participation and premature mortality using 1997-2009 National Health Interview Survey data linked to the National Death Index in 2011. Results from bivariate probit models found that the SNAP program leads to a population average reduction of 1-2 percentage points in mortality from all causes, and a reduction in deaths of despair among 40-64 year olds. [HuffPost Media Coverage]

"Real Estate Agent Dynamism and Licensing Entry Barriers"

with Aaron Yelowitz

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy (Forthcoming) 

This paper examines the labor market entry of real estate agents in the United States. Data from the American Community Survey are linked to local housing price fluctuations for large metro areas. The cost of entry associated with occupational licensing for new real estate agents is carefully measured for each market and interacted with housing fluctuations to investigate the role for barriers to entry. An increase in housing prices is associated with a sizable increase in the number of agents. However, increased license stringency reduces the labor market response significantly. 

WORKS IN PROGRESS 

"How Does Occupational Licensing Affect Entry into the Medical Field?An Examination of EMTs"

with Aaron Yelowitz

Working Paper at the Institute of Labor Economics. IZA DP No. 14071. 

The COVID‐19 pandemic has led to temporary suspensions of many occupational licensing laws, especially for health care professionals, in an effort to manage surges in health care demand. The crisis highlights more general concerns about occupational licensing laws, yet convincing empirical evidence on the degree to which such laws have inhibited entry into health care professions is scarce because most studies must rely on cross‐sectional variation to identify such effects. In this study, we indirectly examine how occupational licensing affects the choice to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) by exploiting the demand‐side shock from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although demand‐side shocks should increase the likelihood of becoming an EMT relative to other similar non‐medical professions, this effect should be moderated in states with higher barriers to entry. Using a large number of individuals from the American Community Survey (ACS) who work as either EMTs or in a similar non‐medical field (protective services), we find suggestive evidence that while the demand‐side shock from the ACA increased the likelihood of being an EMT, this effect was substantially moderated by more stringent occupational licensing laws. Although the effect for the full sample is marginally significant, the estimated effects are substantially larger for individuals under age 40, who are presumably more flexible in choosing a career path. Evaluated at the average number of days to complete EMT training and the pre‐treatment uninsured rate, the implied effects for young individuals in the most careful specification suggests virtually complete offset; the ACA demand‐side shock would increase entry by 18 percentage points, while occupational licensing restrictions reduce entry by a similar magnitude.

 

"Barriers to Employment: Real Estate Agent Licensing and Housing Markets"

The housing market is one of the largest economic markets in the United States, and the associated labor market for real estate agents is dynamic and responsive to housing fluctuations. This paper examines the labor market response of real estate agents to price changes and the potential effects of entry costs on labor supply, earnings, quality, and productivity. Data from the 2012–2017 American Community Survey are linked to local housing price fluctuations, sales, and days on the market for 100 large metro areas. The cost of entry associated with occupational licensing for new real estate agents is interacted with housing fluctuations to investigate the impact of entry barriers. The paper finds that a 10% increase in housing prices is associated with a 4% increase in the number of agents. However, increased license stringency reduces the labor market response by 30%. Younger workers and women are more responsive to entry costs. In the absence of entry costs, earnings do not increase as home prices increase, but higher entry costs are associated with higher earnings. The results also suggest that entry costs are not associated with higher quality, but the effect on productivity is inconclusive. This work contributes to the growing literature investigating the impact of occupational licensing on labor markets as well as the impact of regulation on dynamism and entrepreneurship.