Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Increased coverage of occupational licensing in labor economics textbooks

In a new EJW Audio podcast, Frank Stephenson discusses the 2009 EJW article “Occupational Licensing: Scant Treatment in Labor Texts” that he co-authored with Erin Wendt. Here is a note from Stephenson describing positive changes that have taken place since publication of that article:

Two of the three textbooks that previously neglected occupational licensing were Fundamentals of Labor Economics (by Thomas Hyclak, Geraint Johnes, and Robert Thornton) and Labor Economics (by George Borjas).

In a “new to this edition” summary of a revised version of their book, Hyclak, Johnes, and Thornton note that they have “[a]dded the topic of occupational licensing” and explain that “Occupational licensing requirements now affect more than twice as many workers as do unions in the U.S.; and recent work by Kleiner, Krueger, and others has analyzed the growth and impacts of licensing. Yet other labor economics textbooks devote little or no attention to this increasingly important topic.”

The Borjas book has also added coverage of occupational licensing. The text’s current edition includes occupational licensing as one of its “Theory at Work” features which typically comprise a page or less of the text.