About the Data

The Northwestern Licensing Database

Licensing data is derived from an extensive coding of occupational legislation and regulations, enacted federally and across all 50 states from 1970 to 2017, and across all occupations classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupational Classification system (SOC). During this time period, thousands of licensing laws were passed. Data on licensing was collected for laws enacted 1970-2012 via a census of licensing statutes conducted throughout in 2012-2013. The data has been updated via notification of bill enactments for the years 2013-2017. (Caution: the methodological difference in collection methods may complicate comparisons between these time periods.)

Unfortunately, the administrative burden of making this database available has become too costly.  We are no longer accepting application for the NLD.  If that changes, information about how to apply will be posted on this site.  Please do not email asking for the data.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has compiled data on the licensing requirements for 30 commonly-licensed occupations, which can be found here.


Projects Using NLD

Robert J. McGrath, William W. Franko, Steven Beasley, and Wendy Chen
George Mason University
Impact of state-level occupational licensure on features of state income distributions.

Nicholas Carollo and Moshe Buchinsky
Effect of occupational licensing on labor market adjustment and employment shocks.

Meghana Ayyapari and Vojislav Maksimovic
George Washington University
Occupational licensing as a barrier to entrepreneurship.

Martha Johnson and Maria Fitzpatrick
Cornell University
Impact of occupational licensing on the demand for vocational college training.

Joanna Carroll and Bradley Heim
Indiana University
Impact of licensing on low-skilled and low-wage occupations on the effectiveness of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Eliza Forsythe and Anahid Bauer
University of Illinois
Impact of licensing on employer training costs, wages, employment, occupational task allocation and related spill-over effects.

Samuel Dodini and Mike Lovenheim
Cornell University
Evolution of skills covered by licenses over time and impact of licensing on returns to skill.

Florian Hoffmann, Joshua D. Gottlieb, and Catherine E. van der List
University of British Columbia
The effects of occupational licensing on state-level market prices for services.

Julia Pollak and Jennifer Lewis
Pepperdine University
The effect of licensing on labor market participation.

Jacob Fabina 
Boston University
The adaptability of for-profit colleges to demand for college programs.

Michael Lipsitz and Austin Smith 
Miami University
Wage and employment spill-over effects into unlicensed related occupations.