Search Results

Title: The Effects of Worker Investments in Safety on Risk of Accidents and Wages
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Guardado, Jose R.
The Effects of Worker Investments in Safety on Risk of Accidents and Wages
Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2008.
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Accidents; Body Mass Index (BMI); Injuries; Wages; Weight

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

This thesis examines the relationship between the risk of work accidents, investments in safety, and wages. Standard theory predicts that safety investments lower wages since workers and firms have negative tradeoffs between these variables. However, this hinges on the assumption that safety is modifiable only by firms. In this thesis, I incorporate worker investment in safety to the conventional model to examine its effects on risk and wages. The model predicts that risk falls and wages rise when workers invest in safety.

I then test these predictions empirically. Because worker safety investments are difficult to measure, I take an indirect approach. Previous studies find that body weight is positively associated with the risk of accidents (injuries), suggesting workers can invest in safety by maintaining a lower weight. Thus, using body mass index (BMI) as a proxy for such investment, and the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), I estimate the effect of high BMI on the risk of experiencing a workplace injury. I find that obesity increases the risk of injury by 22 percent. However, although non-obese workers have higher safety-related productivity, this is probably not (entirely) due to purposeful investment.

I then use the 1979 NLSY and job risk data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to examine whether worker investments in safety (safety-related productivity) increase wages. Comparing wage differences in high and low risk jobs for low- and high-BMI workers, I find that obese workers earn a 5 percent smaller return to risk than their non-obese counterparts, which is consistent with the hypothesis.

Finally, in a similar analysis but focusing more on the effects of weight per se, I assess whether a correlation between weight and wages can be explained by safety-related productivity. I find that obese males in high risk jobs earn 5 percent lower wages than their non-obese counterparts due to their lower safety-related productivity. For females, between 49 and 78 percent of the wage effects of obesity yielded by cross-sectional estimates can be explained by lower safety-related productivity, and the remainder by individual heterogeneity.

Bibliography Citation
Guardado, Jose R. The Effects of Worker Investments in Safety on Risk of Accidents and Wages. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2008..