How do state licensing rules affect property crime rates?

By Caleb Taylor

When occupational licensing laws make it hard for people, especially young people, to get jobs, that may lead to the “motive and opportunity” to commit property crimes. That’s the groundbreaking research result from UCA Associate Professor of Economics and ACRE Scholar Dr. Thomas Snyder and UCA graduate student Saliou N. Ouattara in their research paper “Occupational Licensing and Property Crime” published in the Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy on July 19th.

The paper demonstrates that there is a relationship between burdensome licensing requirements and high property crime rates. Snyder and Ouattara find that occupational licensing requirements can lead to an increase in property-crime rates. Their paper is the first to “test the relationship between occupational licensing requirements and property-crime rates.”

Snyder and Ouattara state in their paper that young people are especially harmed by high levels of licensing.

They write:

The youth particularly suffers from the negative consequences of licensing burdens. High licensing burdens and other labor market regulations creates barriers to employment opportunities  and can lead to idle hands. This disenfranchisement can provide individuals with a motive and opportunity to commit crime.”

Snyder and Ouattara recommend states explore alternatives to licensure such as certifications that “specify what it means to be considered a certified professional, but they do not demand that the professional meet those qualifications in order to practice his or her profession.”

They write:

Certification would provide safeguards but would not have the labor market effects that occupational licensing regulations do.  In short, certification would not incentivize property crime.”

Snyder is also the author of  “The State of Occupational Licensing: Arkansas” 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.” That project was co-authored with ACRE Director and UCA Associate Professor of Economics David Mitchell and Amy Fontinelle, an editor and author of several economics and policy related works.

For more information on this topic, check out ACRE’s additional research and commentary on labor market regulation.