Blooming Nonsense: Do Claims about the Consumer Benefit of Licensure Withstand Empirical Scrutiny?
To see whether floral arrangements for sale in Louisiana are indeed appreciably superior to — or even appreciably different from — those made by unlicensed florists, I conducted a randomized field experiment. Twenty-five arrangements were purchased from randomly selected retail stores in regulated Louisiana and 25 from stores in unregulated Texas. Retailers were given a theme — sympathy — and some general parameters in which to work. The florists had no idea their arrangements would be used in the experiment, so the arrangements were typical of those any consumer might buy…Not surprisingly, judges rated the Texas and Louisiana arrangements essentially the same, giving the Texas arrangements an average score of 25 to Louisiana’s 24.05, a difference that is not statistically significant. Using multiple regression to control for the state of origin of the judge, the freshness of the arrangement, and the cost of the arrangements, I found that there is essentially no difference between arrangements from licensed and unlicensed florists.