One of the main justifications of occupational licensure is that regulation protects the health and safety of consumers.
However, licensure of opticians accomplishes little or nothing for the public, according to a new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
From the Mercatus Center:
The unemployment level remains elevated in the United States, but occupational licensing restricts entry into numerous professions. Many licensing laws do not clearly increase public safety and ought to be reexamined by policymakers. Optician licensing is one good candidate. Optician licensing laws potentially raise the cost of vision care without showing any observable change in quality. They restrict competition and increase salaries for opticians, but provide no measurable benefit to consumers.
The scope and scale of occupational licensing in the United States continues to grow. The optician profession provides a typical example: 21 states currently require opticians to be licensed, each according to different rules. Although advocates of licensing suggest that it is important for public safety, licensing legislation mainly tends to benefit practitioners by reducing competition.
You can read the entire report, which focuses on optician licensing at the state level, here. (Spoiler alert: Arkansas creates the second highest licensing burden in the nation: 1,120 days of education/experience are required to work in our state as an optician.)
Speaking of occupational licensing, Dana D. Kelley has a great editorial in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in support of HB 1158.
(HB 1158) is a great first step toward correcting our way out-of-balance licensure so that Arkansas’s onerous burden ranking lines up like it should for a state struggling with income distress and low education levels–near the bottom.
Arkansas should strive to be tops in the nation in job creation and economic freedom — not in occupational licensing that makes it harder for our citizens to work.