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The Effects of Licensing on the Wages of Radiologic Technologists

December 1, 2008
By Edward Timmons, Robert Thornton

This paper, authored by Lehigh University economics professors Edward Timmons and Robert Thornton, uses industry wage survey data to study the effects of occupational licensing regulations on workers’ wages.

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This paper, authored by Lehigh University economics professors Edward Timmons and Robert Thornton, uses industry wage survey data to study the effects of occupational licensing regulations on workers’ wages.

Using data from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, Timmons and Thornton study how state governments’ licensing regulations for radiologic technicians correlates with self-reported earned wages, independent of other variables, such as unionization.

The professional organization representing radiologic technologists conducts periodic surveys of members’ salaries, providing researchers with a unique data source, Timmons and Thornton write.

“The ASRT has periodically conducted salary surveys of its members and other RTs,” Timmons and Thornton write. “We use data from the 2001 survey for our empirical analysis. The sample includes RTs paid an hourly wage and those who are paid a salary. For the purposes of this study, we focus upon RTs paid an hourly wage. … [W]e compare means for the variables in states with licensing to the corresponding means in states without licensing. A standard t-test reveals that average RT wages are higher in states with licensing than in states without licensing. Most RTs in the sample are married females whose wages are not covered by collective bargaining agreements and who practice radiography.”

States’ occupational licensing regulations for RTs are correlated with an inflation of RT wages, Timmons and Thornton write.

“For our final specification, we measure the extent of licensing using the number of hours that the CE [continuing education] requirements of a state are below ARRT [American Registry of Radiologic Technologists] guidelines. … The sign of the coefficient is negative, suggesting support for the Adam hypothesis that continuing education requirements are positively correlated with the strictness of licensing; however, the coefficient is statistically insignificant. It does not appear that CE requirements affect RT wages.

“In summary, we find some evidence that licensing affects RT wages,” Timmons and Thornton write. Our results suggest that licensing increases wages by as much as 3.3 percent. The magnitude of our estimate is relatively small but yet comparable to those found in other licensing studies examining professions not requiring a bachelor’s degree.”