“Is Occupational Licensing Meant to Block Competition from Ethnic Minorities?”

Coyote advances a geographically based hypothesis. Since occupational licensure is found in ethnically uniform nations, it can hardly owe its origins exclusively to this sort of tension. In the common American pattern, however, where one ethnic group dominates a given trade or occupation for a time and then gives way to or is challenged by a newer ethnic group, it may be easier to assemble political coalitions that slow down the advance of the newcomers. Milton Friedman’s famous chapter on occupational licensure from Capitalism and Freedom is here.


  • I need more information. Which sectors are we talking about? What enterprises cannot be penetrated because of racist occupational licensing? I am not dismissing this entirely — ethnicities can dominate and exclude, of course.

  • @Anonymous Attorney,

    All of them. The Coyote article looks at two maps of the US, one with the states shaded by number of occupations requiring licenses and the other shaded by the proportion of the population that are first gen immigrants. In both cases, darker shading equals more licensed occupations/more first gen immigrants. While hardly conclusive, the correlation between the darkest states on both maps is suggestive.

  • On the wider tendency of particular ethnicities to cluster in occupations and succeed each other over time (Italian neighborhood grocers giving way to Koreans who now are in turn giving way to newer groups, etc.) I think Thomas Sowell has a discussion pulling many threads together, but I can’t remember in which of his books it was.

  • Meant? Usually not. Used for it? Yes.