The myth of professional licensing

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Abstract

The public and most professionals believe that occupational licensing protects service consumers against charlatans and incompetents. The present review of historical, economic, and sociological research indicates a specious association between licensing and the competence of practitioners. Rather, it is suggested that the evidence reveals licensing to be a mystifying arrangement that promises protection of the public but that actually institutionalizes a lack of accountability to the public. The collusion between the state and the professions, which may be justified in altruistic terms, appears not to merit public confidence. It is concluded that acknowledging the failure of licensing is preparatory to defining the problem of how to protect the public. (39 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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