ACRE Student Spotlight: Elsa Mattson

By Caleb Taylor

Do occupational licensing regulations affect the amount of business establishments within states?

The answer is “yes,” according to a forthcoming paper entitled “Occupational Licensing Effects on Business Establishments” co-authored by ACRE Undergraduate Research Fellow Elsa Mattson.

According to the abstract of the paper:

This paper investigates the effects of state occupational licensing rules on new business establishments in the service sector.  Occupational licensing regulations differ across states for many occupations. Economic reasoning suggests that areas with high costs of starting a business would have lower numbers of new businesses than areas with lower start-up costs.  Using panel data analysis, this study finds that counties in states with lower occupational licensing burdens have greater numbers of new business establishments across time than counties in states with high burdens. This implies that counties with more burdensome licensing restrictions may, in fact, push some businesses across state borders.”

In addition to her research project this semester, Mattson’s research from the previous semester was featured in an op-ed published on Feb. 5 in The Morning Call entitled “Why Pennsylvania should help former inmates get job licenses,” about recent reforms in Pennsylvania that make it easier for former prisoners to obtain employment. 

Mattson said:

By loosening the requirements needed for licenses, potential workers can find jobs at a faster pace and contribute to their local economies. Since Pennsylvania is finally on the path toward fewer licensing requirements, its past prisoners may reap the benefits of this change within the next few decades. Pennsylvania’s state lawmakers should continue to chase after occupational licensing reforms. Gov. Wolf is on the right track, but when it comes to occupational licenses for the one-time incarcerated, there is always more work to be done.”

Mattson is a part of ACRE’s Research Fellowship Program. In this program, students work with a professor to write a publishable research paper that is presented at the annual SOBIE conference on April 15-17 in Destin, Florida. Mattson has been working with ACRE Scholar and UCA Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Thomas Snyder to investigate the relationship between occupational licensing and business establishment. 

Mattson is from Conway, Arkansas. She is a junior majoring in Economics, MIS, and Chinese. After graduating she plans to attend school for an MBA or pursue a career in business. 

For more on the costs of getting government permission slips to work affecting where businesses locate, watch Dr. Alicia Plemmons at an ACRE Speaker Series event on Nov. 19.

For more on this topic, check out our labor market regulation research page.