• Peter Blair

Why Does a Hair Braider Need a License?


Illustration by the New York Times

In his latest opinion piece for the The New York Times, Peter Coy discusses the work of Project Co-Director Peter Blair and his colleagues Bobby W. Chung and Mischa Fisher.


Blair and Chung found that “when a profession is licensed, the relative share of workers in the profession declines by 27 percent, which is a large impact."


To find out whether those who remain in the profession end up working more as a result of this, Blair and Fisher, the chief economist of Angi, analyzed 21 million transactions and found that “licensing of a task reduces the accept rate by 16 percentage points from a baseline of about 60 percent."


"Blair and Chung also studied how licenses affect different racial groups. While licensing works against the interests of Black professionals in the case of hair braiding, it could help at least some of them in other professions, Blair and Chung theorized. For example, some professions won’t give licenses to people with felonies on their records, and Black men are more likely to have been convicted of felonies than white men. So for a Black man, having a license can be a way of demonstrating that he has no felonies in his past, even in states that don’t allow employers to ask about criminal records, Blair and Chung theorized.


When they tested the theory against the data, they found that it stood up. Black men and women got a bigger income boost from having a license than white men and women did."


For more on Blair's licensing work, read his recent article for The Reporter, a publication of the National Bureau of Economic Research.