Nebraska ranks 17th in cosmetology board capture index

Nebraska ranks 17th in cosmetology board capture index

A new study from Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Liberty (CSEL) focuses on the “regulatory capture” of cosmetology licensing boards around the country. It shows the Nebraska cosmetology board ranked in the middle of the 34-place pack (multiple states are tied for ranks).

Regulatory capture in occupational licensing refers to the extent to which licensing boards are controlled by incumbent license holders, as well as representatives from schools that train those who would hold licenses.

The index rates states based on the membership of licensing boards. Research Fellow Stephen Silvinski examined the percent of the board that are “public members” not licensed by the board itself, and the percentage who are licensed practitioners or owners of schools. The study reports that of the 13 members of Nebraska’s licensing board, only two are members of the public who do not hold a license in the field.

Though Nebraska’s ranking is in the middle of the pack, the state’s final score of 76.92 on the index places it closer to the most captured states (New York, 111) than to the least captured states (Maine, 0). Among our neighbors, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota’s licensing boards were ranked as less captured, while Colorado, Missouri, and Wyoming’s boards were ranked as more captured.

The author points out that:

One reason to quantify the dominance of incumbent interests is to allow more transparency into and understanding of the licensing policy and enforcement process for the benefit of citizens and policymakers. Another reason is that it helps researchers understand the status quo and the future prospects for reform. For instance, an implicit assumption of this index is that a more heavily captured state might have higher barriers to entry into the occupation which they have licensing authority over than a less-captured state.

The data suggest that the licensing requirements for states that are more captured are indeed higher. According to the report, the national average days of training for licensure for cosmetologists is 385 calendar days; in the top 8 captured states, the average is 435 calendar days.

As we continue to look at ways to reform occupational licensing to open up opportunities, policymakers should consider examining the issue of regulatory capture of licensing boards. If most of Nebraska’s licensing boards are captured by incumbent license holders, a change–like that made in Arizona this year–to fundamentally alter the membership of boards, might be worth consideration.

Photo by Atikah Akhtar on Unsplash

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