The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

750. J. Mark Ramseyer & Erik B. Rasmusen, Lowering the Bar to Raise the Bar: Licensing Difficulty and Attorney Quality in Japan, 07/2013.

Abstract: Under certain circumstance, a relaxation in occupational licensing standards can increase the quality of those who enter the industry. The effect turns on the opportunity costs of preparing for the licensing examination: making the test easier can increase the quality of those passing if it lowers the opportunity costs enough to increase the number of those willing to go to the trouble of taking the test. We explore the theoretical circumstances under which this can occur and the actual effect of the relaxation of the diffculty of the bar exam in Japan from 1992 to 2011.


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