How Does Occupational Licensing Affect Recidivism?

By Caleb Taylor

Licensing requirements may prevent ex-convicts from finding employment after leaving prison — and that may drive them back into crime. That’s what Stephen Slivinski, a senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University, said to UCA students on March 27th.

Slivinski is the author of “Turning Shackles Into Bootstraps: Why Occupational Licensing Reform Is The Missing Piece of Criminal Justice Reform,” which examines this issue on the national level. Slivinski concludes that a state’s occupational licensing burdens are second only to its overall labor market conditions in affecting changes in recidivism rates.

ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder is also currently working on a research paper with Slivinski on the relationship between occupational licensing and recidivism here in Arkansas.

Slivinski’s hypothesis is that these licensing requirements also hinder ex-convicts from finding employment after leaving prison.

Slivinski said,

I think there is a good argument to be made that licensing burdens affect the three-year recidivism rate, that critical period when someone is most likely to go back to prison if they don’t already have gainful employment.”

According to “The State of Occupational Licensing: Arkansas”  co-authored by ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor Dr. Thomas Snyder with researchers from the the Mercatus Center, 82 percent of studies agree that occupational licensing has a disparate impact on ethnic minorities, military spouses and immigrants. Snyder also discusses which occupations have the most burdensome licensing laws, how these restrictions affect job seekers, entrepreneurs, and consumers; and how we can reform the worst parts of these regulations in ACRE Policy Review  “Unnatural Rights in the Natural State.” This project was co-authored with ACRE Director and UCA Associate Professor of Economics David Mitchell and Amy Fontinelle.

You can check out Slivinski’s full presentation below: