This study is the first of its kind to explore the relationship between three-year recidivism rates for new crimes and relate it to occupational licensing burdens by combining data from the Institute for Justice, the Pew Center on the States, and the National Employment Law Project. This study estimates that between 1997 and 2007 the states with the heaviest occupational licensing burdens saw an average increase in the three-year, new-crime recidivism rate of over 9%. Conversely, the states that had the lowest burdens and no such character provisions saw an average decline in that recidivism rate of nearly 2.5%. Even among states that have no “good character” restrictions, occupational licensing burdens still matter greatly. The states that had high occupational licensing burdens also saw increases in their three-year, newcrime recidivism rate while those that had low licensing burdens saw declines. This relationship was statistically significant even after controlling for variables such as the growth in the overall crime rate and the employment climate of a state.
Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University
November 7, 2016