Grease or Grit? New book shows how occupational licensing affects the efficiency of labor markets

Cover of Grease or Grit?

Over the past two decades, research has shown that occupational licensing plays a major and growing role in labor markets. Licensing regulations that restrict entry to occupations impact the quality and cost of services in ways that are becoming increasingly clear. Morris M. Kleiner has been at the forefront of research on the impacts of occupational licensing in the U.S. labor market, and now he joins with coeditor Maria Koumenta to present a set of case studies on the impacts of licensing that include selected European nations.

In Grease or Grit? International Case Studies of Occupational Licensing and Its Effects on Efficiency and Quality, Kleiner and Koumenta present a half-dozen case studies that, together, show how regulations imposed by OL either enhance (grease) or diminish (grit) the efficiency of labor markets. This book expands the available knowledge of occupational licensing and furthers our understanding of the connection between licensing and service quality.

According to Maria Koumenta in her concluding chapter, the case studies in this book show that reducing licensing requirements and therefore expanding the number of service providers or competition failed to negatively impact service quality. In summary, she says, licensing looks to be more grit than grease in driving efficiency and quality.

This is an open access book. You may download, for free, each of the individual chapters or the entire book. Also available as a download is an audio file of Morris Kleiner reading his introductory chapter.

“Despite its ubiquity, occupational licensing received almost no scrutiny—until Kleiner alerted scholars and policymakers to its importance. Now, Kleiner and coeditor Koumenta 'go global' with this volume, illuminating the positives and pitfalls of occupational licensing across Europe and the U.S. Their book is indispensable reading for practitioners, policymakers, and egghead labor economists like me.”
David Autor, Ford Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Morris M. Kleiner headshot

Morris M. Kleiner

Visiting Scholar