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Economic Liberty

  • November 19, 2019    |    Strategic Research

    Barriers to Braiding

    Illinois Analysis

    This report supplements our 2016 study Barriers to Braiding: How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape. That study investigated whether (1) braiding licenses keep people out of work and (2) braiding poses risks that justify occupational licensing. This report uses data from Illinois that we intended to include in Barriers…

  • April 10, 2019    |    Scholarly Articles

    The increasing popularity of cottage foods in the United States requires that state laws regulating the industry be given careful consideration. However, little is known about cottage food producers or their businesses. This article discusses results from the first comprehensive survey of cottage food producers in the United States. Linear and logistic regression analyses of…

  • November 15, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    Ready to Roll

    Nine Lessons from Ending Wisconsin's Home-Baking Ban

    Most states have “cottage food laws,” which regulate the sale of homemade foods. The specifics vary from state to state, but most such laws restrict the types of homemade foods that may be sold. Research suggests such restrictions may hinder entrepreneurship. Now, a recent change in Wisconsin law provides an opportunity to examine what it…

  • November 14, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    At What Cost

    State and National Estimates of the Economic Costs of Occupational Licensing

    Not only do state occupational licensing laws force people to spend a lot of time and money earning a license instead of earning a living, they also impose real economic costs. This study takes advantage of a uniquely large dataset to offer the first state-level estimates of licensing’s economic costs for 36 states, as well…

  • October 18, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study follows up an earlier study in which we examined the scope and burden of 102 occupational licensing laws in the United States for low‐ and moderate‐income occupations. Using data collected in 2017, findings indicate that the licences studied require of aspiring workers, on average, US$262 in fees, one exam, and about 12 months…

  • October 5, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    Regulatory Overdrive

    Taxi Regulations, Market Concentration and Service Availability

    Traditional taxis are highly regulated in most American cities, with local regulators determining everything from how many taxis can be licensed to the types of services they can provide to the fares they can charge to where they can pick up customers. But does all this regulation make sense? To begin to answer this question,…

  • August 13, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    In 2013, Heather Kokesch Del Castillo found herself in an unfulfilling career and began to question whether she was following her true passion. At the same time, she was growing increasingly dissatisfied with her physical fitness. She joined a local gym to make fitness a priority again. Suggested citation: Carpenter, D. M. (2018, Summer). You’ll…

  • August 1, 2018    |    Scholarly Articles

    The data described in this article come from an original survey of street vendors in the 50 largest cities in the United States. One of the most persistent, although little understood, features of the urban American environment, street vending is defined as “the retail or wholesale trading of goods and services in streets and other…

  • June 15, 2018    |    Strategic Research

    A Golden Opportunity for the Golden State

    How SB 946 Would Protect Sidewalk Vendors—and the Public

    California’s sidewalk vendors face a patchwork of arbitrary and anticompetitive rules that make it difficult—or even impossible—to ply their chosen trade and share in the prosperity of the United States’ largest economy. Now the California Legislature is considering a bill, SB 946, that would protect the rights of these entrepreneurs by providing a framework within…

  • December 7, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Flour Power

    How Cottage Food Entrepreneurs Are Using Their Home Kitchens to Become Their Own Bosses

    All across the country, thousands of Americans are making food at home to sell in their communities. Together, they form the small but growing “cottage food” industry. With renewed interest in this age-old industry, laws are being made with little understanding of cottage food producers and their businesses. This first-of-its-kind study surveyed 775 cottage food…

  • December 5, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Finding the American Dream at Home

    How Home-Based Businesses Benefit Entrepreneurs and Their Communities

    Across the country, millions of enterprising people are running businesses out of their homes. This report outlines the myriad benefits of home-based businesses and suggests that government regulations curtailing them are short-sighted. It details how home-based businesses make entrepreneurship possible for people of all different backgrounds and socio-economic circumstances, all while making meaningful contributions to…

  • November 13, 2017    |    Strategic Research

    Today, more Americans than ever must get a government permission slip before they can earn an honest living, thanks to the spread of occupational licensing laws. Licensing laws now guard entry into hundreds of occupations, including jobs that offer upward mobility to those of modest means, such as cosmetologist, auctioneer, athletic trainer and landscape contractor.…

  • November 13, 2017    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    The Inverted Pyramid

    10 Less Restrictive Alternatives to Occupational Licensing

    When it comes to occupational regulation, policymakers may see their options as action or inaction: licensing or no licensing. In fact, policymakers can choose from a plethora of alternatives that provide the purported benefits of licensing, without the downsides. This paper discusses 10 less restrictive alternatives to licensing that can protect consumers as well as…

  • June 26, 2017    |    Scholarly Articles

    At this moment, a campaign is being waged in America’s state capitals. Its purpose? To protect the public from the menace of unregulated music therapists. A music therapist “directs and participates in instrumental and vocal music activities designed to meet patients’ physical or psychological needs.” Whatever one thinks of this work, it is difficult to imagine…

  • October 19, 2016    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Opportunity Lost

    How Chicago’s food truck proximity ban hinders economic opportunity and stifles consumer choice

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his “administration is committed to creating the conditions and opportunities that will allow this industry [food trucks] to thrive, create jobs and support a vibrant food culture across Chicago.” But actions speak louder than words, and a new analysis of data obtained through the lawsuit finds that the city’s protectionist…

  • October 1, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    Putting Licensing to the Test

    How Licenses for Tour Guides Fail Consumers—and Guides

    More Americans than ever need a license to work. But what do occupational licenses actually accomplish? This case study of one such license adds to a growing body of research that suggests this red tape does nothing but create needless barriers to work. It finds that a licensing scheme for tour guides in the District…

  • September 30, 2016    |    Scholarly Articles

    Occupations:

    A Hierarchy of Regulatory Options

    Momentum is growing in favor of reining in excessive occupational licensing. However, policymaking in this arena is too often plagued by assumptions that the only regulatory options are no licensing or full licensing. Such binary thinking sees policymakers swayed by specious claims that licensing is necessary to protect public health and safety or to promote…

  • September 1, 2016    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Throughout the nation, cities and counties are looking for ways to promote economic liberty and improve the well-being of their residents But all too often this desire to improve economic conditions manifests itself in expensive and wasteful corporate welfare, public investment in real estate schemes, quaint-but-inefficient forms of mass transit, and other counterproductive uses of…

  • July 19, 2016    |    Strategic Research

    Barriers to Braiding

    How Job-Killing Licensing Laws Tangle Natural Hair Care in Needless Red Tape

    African-style hair braiding is a time-tested and natural craft. Yet most states force braiders to get a government license and take hundreds or even thousands of hours of classes to work legally. This study finds that such onerous licensing has nothing to do with protecting public health and safety. Instead, it just keeps braiders out…

  • October 6, 2015    |    Strategic Research

    Upwardly Mobile

    Street Vending and the American Dream

    As old as the country itself, American street vending has never been more prominent. It’s the subject of television shows, think pieces and—less happily—burdensome regulations in cities nationwide. Yet hard data about vendors and their economic contributions have been hard to come by—until now. Alongside the stories of a diverse group of vendors, Upwardly Mobile:…

  • March 1, 2015    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Boards Behaving Badly

    How States Can Prevent Licensing Boards From Restraining Competition, Harming Consumers, and Generating Legal Liability Under North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC

    In a nutshell, states should: Charge an independent “licensing ombudsman” with reviewing the actions of state licensing boards; Charge the licensing ombudsman with a mandate to promote economic competition; Make the ombudsman responsible for conducting periodic reviews to identify ways to reduce licensing burdens; and Eliminate licensing altogether for occupations where it is unnecessary.

  • September 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide

    How to Succeed in Your Fight for Economic Liberty

    You have the right to earn an honest living. This is called “economic liberty” and it is protected by the U.S. Constitution. But often, entrepreneurs face burdensome, arbitrary and anti-competitive laws that make it difficult, if not impossible, to earn an honest living in the occupation of their choosing. If you are an entrepreneur struggling…

  • July 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Untangling Regulations

    Natural Hair Braiders Fight Against Irrational Licensing

    Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many African, African-American and immigrant communities in the United States. But braiders in many states have to endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay thousands of dollars before they can legally work.

  • June 1, 2014    |    Strategic Research

    Street Eats, Safe Eats

    How Food Trucks and Carts Stack Up to Restaurants on Sanitation

    Street food, long a part of American life, has boomed in popularity in recent years. Yet an idea persists that food from trucks and sidewalk carts is unclean and unsafe. Street Eats, Safe Eats tests that common, but unsubstantiated claim by reviewing more than 260,000 food-safety inspection reports from seven large American cities. In each…

  • June 1, 2014    |    Perspectives on Economic Liberty

    Today’s bans and strict regulations ultimately limit the choices available to eaters—which include quite literally everyone—and, in the process, prevent food entrepreneurs from earning an honest living.

  • February 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Florida’s Dirty Dozen

    Twelve Repealers That Can Boost Business, Create Jobs,and Change Florida’s Economic Policy for the Better

    Florida legislators can make Florida more business friendly by repealing 12 anticompetitive, senseless and arbitrary laws that hold back entrepreneurs.

  • January 1, 2014    |    Scholarly Articles

    One of the significant challenges facing licensing professionals is striking the most effective, efficient and just balance between regulation of occupations and preserving occupational practice free from unnecessary government restrictions. As discussed in greater detail below, there are at least two reasons—legal and economic—why finding such a balance is important. The first—legal—grows out of the…

  • April 1, 2013    |    Strategic Research

    White Out

    How Dental Industry Insiders Thwart Competition from Teeth-whitening Entrepreneurs

    As the teeth-whitening industry has exploded in recent years, so too has the push for laws and regulations that enable licensed dentists and hygienists to capture a greater share of that market by banning anyone else from offering teeth-whitening services. This study investigates this expansion of dental licensing as a form of economic protectionism, where…

  • November 1, 2012    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Seven Myths and Realities about Food Trucks

    Why the Facts Support Food-Truck Freedom

    Using facts and real-world examples, IJ shows that there is no basis for the argument that restaurants need government intervention to “protect” them from food trucks.

  • November 1, 2012    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Food-Truck Freedom

    How to Build Better Food-Truck Laws in Your City

    In order to foster the conditions that will let food trucks thrive, this report offers recommendations based on the legislative best practices of Los Angeles and other cities.

  • May 1, 2012    |    Strategic Research

    License to Work: First Edition

    A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

    License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs. The report documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher—across all 50 states and the District…

  • April 7, 2012    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines hypothesized benefits associated with occupational licensing in one long-regulated industry in Louisiana—floristry—in order to determine to what extent licensing results in theorized benefits that might justify the costs associated with licensure systems. Results indicate the regulation appears not to result in a statistically significant difference in quality of product. Moreover, floristjudges, whether…

  • July 1, 2011    |    Strategic Research

    Streets of Dreams

    How Cities Can Create Economic Opportunity by Knocking Down Protectionist Barriers to Street Vending

    Street vending is, and always has been, a part of the American economy and a fixture of urban life. Thanks to low start-up costs, the trade has offered countless entrepreneurs—particularly immigrants and others with little income or capital—opportunities for self-sufficiency and upward mobility. At the same time, vendors enrich their communities by providing access to…

  • April 8, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    Can occupational titles mislead the public? Should the use of titles be regulated to protect against such a possibility? Traditionally, occupational regulation is conceptualized as a restriction on the practice of an occupation through licensure, often called market shelters (Freidson 1970a; 1970b; Timmermans, 2008). Another less-discussed form of regulation includes titling laws, where the practice…

  • April 7, 2011    |    Scholarly Articles

    This study examines the effects of entrepreneurship through qualitative case study methods. It examines the life and work of a single small-business entrepreneur in Tupelo, MS to discern how she affects her community both economically and non-economically. Results from the interviews, observations, and document analysis reveal the entrepreneur, an African American hairbraider, role-models entrepreneurship to…

  • April 1, 2011    |   

    This study examines the effects of entrepreneurship through qualitative case study methods. It examines the life and work of a single small-business entrepreneur in Tupelo, MS to discern how she affects her community both economically and non-economically. Results from the interviews, observations, and document analysis reveal the entrepreneur, an African American hairbraider, role-models entrepreneurship to…

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Regulatory Field

    Home of Chicago Laws

    This report examines government-created barriers in industries that have traditionally provided a better way of life for the economically disenfranchised.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Houston, We Have a Problem

    Space City Regulations Prevent Entrepreneurs From Taking Off

    This report focuses on the areas Houston needs to improve in order to remain an opportunity city for all.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    L.A. vs. Small Business

    City of Angels No Heaven for Entrepreneurs

    Los Angeles entrepreneurs are being strangled by red tape, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for entrepreneurs to earn an honest living in the City of Angels.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Miami’s Vice

    Overregulating Entrepreneurs

    Many Miami entrepreneurs are subject to occupation- or industry-specific regulations, which can take years of arbitrary education and cost thousands of dollars. Small business owners also must comply with paperwork and red tape that is complicated, expensive and time-consuming.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    No Work in Newark

    City Must Free Entrepreneurs

    This study examines grassroots entrepreneurship in Newark and offers practical recommendations on how the city, which has become synonymous with urban dysfunction, could reform its laws and practices to encourage more small businesses to operate in its city.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    No Brotherly Love for Entrepreneurs

    It’s Never Sunny for Philadelphia’s Small Businesses

    At nearly every level, Philadelphia’s city government and related bureaucracies operate with a one-word vocabulary: Whatever the question is, the answer is “No.” From zoning to permitting to occupational licensing, would-be entrepreneurs hear that answer time and again.

  • November 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Washington, DC vs. Entrepreneurs

    DC’s Monumental Regulations Stifle Small Businesses

    Rather than pursuing their dreams, too many residents in Washington, D.C., move to more hospitable jurisdictions, take their businesses underground or simply give up.

  • October 1, 2010    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Unhappy Days for Milwaukee Entrepreneurs

    Brew City Regulations Make it Hard for Businesses to Achieve the High Life

    This report chronicles the ways in which the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin make life difficult for small businesses, which threatens both entrepreneurship and the American Dream.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    The Power of One Entrepreneur

    Kim Powers Bridges

    Funeral home and cemetery owner Kim Powers Bridges battled bureaucrats in her home state of Oklahoma where she wanted to sell caskets online. Unsuccessful in that fight, she grew a brick-and-mortar business in Tennessee and now has holdings in nine states.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    High-tech Dallas entrepreneur Thane Hayhurst helps businesses across Texas keep their computers running at peak efficiency, but he was threatened to be put out of business under a law that effectively requires anyone who conducts computer repair to become a licensed private investigator.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    New York City commuter van owner Hector Ricketts battled the politically powerful and heavily subsidized public buses for years. Despite overwhelming odds against him, Hector continues to grow his “dollar van” business.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    Seattle-area bagel businessman Dennis Ballen’s thriving enterprise was almost driven out of business by a local law that barred him from advertising his business. He joined with IJ to fight for his First Amendment rights and, in the process, secured a precedent that has since freed other businesses to advertise.

  • July 1, 2010    |    Power of One Entrepreneur Studies

    An African hair braider from Tupelo, Miss., Melony Armstrong successfully challenged an anti-competitive licensing law in her state and has grown into an inspiring economic force who brings hope and opportunity to her community.

  • March 1, 2010    |    Strategic Research

    Blooming Nonsense

    Experiment Reveals Louisiana's Florist Licensing Scheme as Pointless and Anti-Competitive

    For more than a decade, Monique Chauvin has owned and operated one of the most popular and recognized floral shops in all of New Orleans. Her work is regularly featured in magazines, and her store has been repeatedly voted as “Tops of the Town” in New Orleans magazine by residents of the Big Easy. Yet…

  • September 1, 2009    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Bureaucratic Barbed Wire

    How Occupational Licensing Fences Out Texas Entrepreneurs

    Texas has a unique heritage of inspiring entrepreneurs. But the state has been restricting the economic liberty long enjoyed by its citizens.

  • May 1, 2009    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Regulatory Field

    Burdensome Laws Strike Out Chicago Entrepreneurs

    Want to create a job in Chicago? It is not that easy. Especially in such tough economic times, people may be shocked to discover the lengths to which the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois go to discourage entrepreneurs who seek to create jobs for themselves and others. This updated report by the…

  • February 1, 2009    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Exclude

    How Interior Design Insiders Use Government Power to Exclude Minorities & Burden Consumers

    Americans used to be free to practice interior design work and succeed or fail based solely on their skills. But, to the detriment of consumers and would-be entrepreneurs, that is changing. The American Society of Interior Designers, an industry trade group, would like state governments to define what it means to be an interior designer…

  • September 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Designed to Mislead

    How Industry Insiders Mislead the Public About the Need for Interior Design Regulation

    Do people who design interiors “mislead” the public when they call themselves “interior designers” without government permission? Industry insiders advocating greater regulation say yes, but practicing interior designers who simply want to accurately describe what they do say no. This report tests each side’s claims. Using an opinion poll and a survey of leading industry…

  • August 26, 2008    |    Scholarly Articles

    This case study examines a form of occupational regulation infrequently examined in academic literature – titling laws. These laws regulate who may legally use a phrase, or title, to describe their work to the public. Focusing on the interior design industry, this article demonstrates how industry leaders use titling laws as the first step in…

  • July 1, 2008    |    Strategic Research

    Misinformation & Interior Design Regulation

    How the Interior Design Cartel's Attack on IJ's Designing Cartels Misses the Mark

    This report responds to a purported rebuttal of the Institute for Justice’s research on interior design regulations and details how its author, an advocate of increased regulation, fails to provide any evidence of the need for or benefits from limiting entry to the trade. The rebuttal is not only laced with logical and factual errors,…

  • November 1, 2007    |    Strategic Research

    Designing Cartels

    How Industry Insiders Cut Out Competition

    This report examines titling laws, little-known regulations that require people practicing certain professions to gain government permission to use a specific title, such as “interior designer,” to describe their work. Although titling laws receive little attention from the political, policy or research communities, they often represent the first step toward a better-known regulation—occupational licensing, which…

  • March 6, 2007    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Brightening the Beacon

    Removing Barriers to Entrepreneurship in San Diego

    This report presents concrete actions that can be taken by the city of San Diego, the state of California and business leaders-to open opportunities and substantially strengthen the region’s economic base.

  • December 1, 2006    |    Scholarly Articles

    One Test, Two Standards

    The On-and-Off Role of "Plausibility" in Rational Basis Review

    Most of us have a drawer or a closest in our home where we put things that are not important enough to have their own place but are not quite worthless enough to throw away either. That is what the rational basis test is for the Supreme Court – junk drawer for disfavored constitutional rights…

  • May 1, 2006    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    This study shows how Minnesota’s government-imposed regulatory barriers block the path to the American Dream and how these barriers can be removed.

  • December 1, 2005    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    A Dream Deferred

    Legal Barriers to African Hairbraiding Nationwide

    Hair braiding provides outstanding economic opportunities, but licensure requirements in many states have given mainstream cosmetologists a near monopoly.

  • June 1, 2005    |    Scholarly Articles

    No Such Thing

    Litigating Under the Rational Basis Test

    The original legal definition of insanity is the inability to tell right from wrong.1 So it is the first irony of the “rational” basis test that it is, according to that definition, insane. The word “basis” is likewise a misnomer, since the rational basis test is concerned not with the actual basis for challenged legislation,…

  • January 1, 2004    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship in the Emerald City

    Regulations Cloud the Sparkle of Small Businesses

    This study examines the effects of regulation on entry into several occupations in Washington state and, specifically, the greater Seattle area.

  • December 1, 2003    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Burdensome Barriers

    How Excessive Regulations Impede Entrepreneurship in Arizona

    If set free from burdensome and needless regulations, Arizona entrepreneurs would find it easier to open new businesses. When government regulation are necessary, they should be highly circumscribed, easily understandable and narrowly tailored to achieve legitimate goals, such as preventing fraud.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Baltimore

    No Harbor For Entrepreneurs

    Baltimore’s small shops and entry-level entrepreneurs are a vital, year-round source of employment and opportunity for those struggling to gain a foothold on the economic ladder.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Starting a small business in Boston often turns into a regulatory endurance test for would-be entrepreneurs.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship in Charlotte

    Strong Spirit, Serious Barriers

    Too often, the government gets in the way through anachronistic and anti-competitive regulations that are often enforced by bureaucrats who do not share Charlotte’s entrepreneurial spirit.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Detroit is plagued by an intimidating bureaucracy, stifling and expensive rules, and a lack of easily obtained information. The government needs to get out of the way to allow the residents of Detroit to reach their true potential.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    Entrepreneurship in San Antonio

    Much to Celebrate, Much to Fight For

    Entrepreneurs in San Antonio need that Alamo spirit and perseverance to surmount obstacles placed in their way by state and local laws.

  • January 1, 1997    |    Studies on Barriers to Entrepreneurship

    This report describes licensing and permitting laws and related regulations affecting entry-level entrepreneurship in New York City.

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