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Occupational Licensing and Skills Mismatches Among Immigrants and Natives in the United States

  • Massimiliano Tani EMAIL logo


This paper studies the effect of occupational licensing on the education-occupation mismatches and the logarithm of hourly wages of natives and immigrants in the United States using longitudinal data from the 2014 sample of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). On average, licensing reduces the skills mismatch and raises hourly wages among natives but not among immigrants. Over time there is only minimal convergence between the outcomes experienced by licensed natives and immigrants, highlighting that licensing does not produce uniform benefits, by immigrant status. Rather, it appears to institutionalize substantive differences in the quality of the skill matches and hourly pay of native and immigrant licensed workers and professionals.

JEL Classification: J8; J24; J61

Corresponding author: Massimiliano Tani, School of Business, UNSW, Northcott Drive, Campbell, ACT 2612, Australia; and IZA, Bonn, Germany, E-mail:

This paper builds on a Working Paper published by The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University, a university-based academic research center that explores the scientific foundations of the interaction between individuals, business, and government. I am indebted to Kennon Bacon for excellent research support, and Josh Smith and two anonymous referees for valuable comments received for the original paper. Financial support from The Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University is gratefully acknowledged.

This working paper represents scientific research that is intended for submission to an academic journal. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University or the views of Utah State University.

Funding source: Center for Growth Opportunity

Award Identifier / Grant number: seed fund





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Received: 2022-07-04
Accepted: 2023-04-21
Published Online: 2023-05-05

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