The Impact of State Licensing Laws on Low-skilled Immigrants: The Case of Vietnamese Manicurists
We present evidence that the natural gradient between Vietnamese manicurists and Vietnamese residents is suppressed in states with English proficiency requirements. Vietnamese who speak English poorly are especially likely to stumble over these regulatory hurdles, making them less likely to be manicurists in these states. English proficiency requirements may actually impede assimilation by restricting entry into an occupation in which immigrants arguably face lower costs of learning English and receive benefits from doing so via higher earnings.” They also affect the movement of Vietnamese manicurists into counties with no initial Vietnamese population. This occupation appears to promote dispersion as geographical pioneers seek new markets. Finally, these regulations result in fewer manicurists overall, which is likely to raise the price of manicures and reduce consumer options, especially since the Vietnamese have pioneered the ubiquitous, stand-alone nail salon.