Occupational closure and job quality: the case of occupational licensing in Britain

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 15, 2020


The notion of job quality has been at the forefront of academic and policy-debates, best crystallized in the pursuit to create more but also better jobs as a route to economic prosperity. Motivated by the need to better understand how occupational-level structures shape job quality, we derive predictions from the occupational closure literature to explore how occupational licensing – the strongest and fastest growing form of closure – shapes job quality in Britain. Using nationally-representative data over several decades, we find that the effects of licensing tend to be confined to jobs in the most stringently-licensed occupations, with such jobs having higher pay, lower job insecurity, greater opportunities for skill-use, and higher continuous learning requirements – relative to jobs in similarly-skilled unlicensed occupations. Of particular concern, however, is the finding that jobs in stringently-licensed occupations are also characterized by significantly lower task discretion and significantly higher job demands. Overall, our study adds a new dimension to job quality debates by highlighting the role of emergent occupational-level institutional structures in shaping job quality, and further, that despite the overall positive effects closure strategies have, they may come at a cost to certain critical intrinsic dimensions of job quality.

Published in

Human Relations

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 73 , p.711 -736







- https://lib.essex.ac.uk/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1640747?lang=eng



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