The Licensing of Barbers in the USA


  • Edward J. Timmons is at the Department of Business Administration, St. Francis University. Robert J. Thornton is at the Department of Economics, Lehigh University.


Barbering is one of the earliest professions to be licensed in the USA. This article discusses the origins of barber licensing, as well as its current status and scope, and then estimates the effects that such licensing has had on barbers' earnings. To estimate these effects we use micro-level data from the 2000 US Census along with several measures of the strictness of state licensing of barbers. Our results suggest that certain licensing provisions may have increased barber earnings by between 11 and 22 per cent. The magnitude of our estimates is somewhat higher than those found in studies examining the effects of licensing in similar professions.