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Estimating the Value of Safety with Labor Market Data: Are the Results Trustworthy?

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  • Beat Hintermann

    (University of Maryland)

  • Anna Alberini

    (University of Maryland)

  • Anil Markandya

    (University of Bath and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)

Abstract

We use a panel dataset of UK workers to look for evidence of compensating wage differentials for workplace risk. Risk data are available at the four-digit industry level or at the three-digit occupation level. We discuss various econometric problems associated with the hedonic wage approach, namely measurement error, instability of the estimates to specification changes, and endogeneity. We find that if we assume a classical measurement error, the true risk signal would be completely drowned out in our data, which would imply a severe downward bias of the OLS coefficient on risk. But this prediction is at odds with our OLS estimates of the VSL, which are large, especially for blue collar workers. Further, the coefficient on risk changes varies dramatically with the inclusion or exclusion of industry and/or occupation dummies, as well as with the addition of nonfatal risk. When we instrument for risk, which we treat as endogenous with wage, and apply 2SLS or a procedure suggested by Garen (1988), we find negative associations between risk and wages for all workers, which is against the notion of compensating wage differentials, or, for blue-collar workers, extremely large VSL figures. Finally, we exploit the panel nature of our data to apply various estimation procedures (the “within” estimator, GLS and the Hausman-Taylor procedure) that correct for unobserved heterogeneity and endogeneity. The coefficient on risk is usually negative and insignificant for the sample of all workers, which once again questions the notion of compensating wage differentials. For blue-collar workers we obtain reasonable VSLs, but the association between risk and wages is not statistically significant. We conclude that if compensating differentials for risk exist, measurement error, other econometric problems, and the changing nature of labor markets prevent us from observing them. We also conclude that models and techniques for panel data that account for unobserved heterogeneity and endogeneity seem more reliable than the techniques typically employed with cross-sectional data.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2006.119.

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Date of creation: Sep 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2006.119

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Keywords: Value of Life; Labor Market; Wage Hedonics;

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References

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  1. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. " The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
  2. Garen, John, 1984. "The Returns to Schooling: A Selectivity Bias Approach with a Continuous Choice Variable," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1199-1218, September.
  3. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
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  7. Biddle, Jeff E & Zarkin, Gary A, 1988. "Worker Preferences and Market Compensation for Job Risk," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(4), pages 660-67, November.
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  9. Gegax, D. & Gerking, S.D. & Schulze, W.D., 1991. "Perceived risk and the marginal value of safety," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-4628495, Tilburg University.
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  12. Black, Dan A & Kniesner, Thomas J, 2003. " On the Measurement of Job Risk in Hedonic Wage Models," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 205-20, December.
  13. Leigh J. Paul, 1995. "Compensating Wages, Value of a Statistical Life, and Inter-industry Differentials," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 83-97, January.
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  15. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
  16. Gegax, Douglas & Gerking, Shelby & Schulze, William, 1991. "Perceived Risk and the Marginal Value of Safety," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 589-96, November.
  17. Lanoie, Paul & Pedro, Carmen & Latour, Robert, 1995. "The Value of a Statistical Life: A Comparison of Two Approaches," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 235-57, May.
  18. Jason F. Shogren & Tommy Stamland, 2002. "Skill and the Value of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1168-1197, October.
  19. Garen, John, 1988. "Compensating Wage Differentials and the Endogeneity of Job Riskiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 9-16, February.
  20. Sandy, Robert & R. F. Elliot & W. S. Siebert & X. D. Wei, 2001. " Measurement Error and the Effects of Unions on the Compensating Differentials for Fatal Workplace Risks," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 33-56, July.
  21. G. R. Arabsheibani & A. Marin, 2001. "Self-selectivity bias with a continuous variable: potential pitfall in a common procedure," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(15), pages 1903-1910.
  22. Siebert, W Stanley & Wei, X, 1994. "Compensating Wage Differentials for Workplace Accidents: Evidence for Union and Nonunion Workers in the UK," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 61-76, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Anna Alberini & Milan Ščasný, 2011. "Context and the VSL: Evidence from a Stated Preference Study in Italy and the Czech Republic," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(4), pages 511-538, August.
  2. Pouliakas, Konstantinos & Theodossiou, Ioannis, 2010. "An Inquiry into the Theory, Causes and Consequences of Monitoring Indicators of Health and Safety at Work," IZA Discussion Papers 4734, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Maureen Cropper & James K. Hammitt & Lisa A. Robinson, 2011. "Valuing Mortality Risk Reductions: Progress and Challenges," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 313-336, October.
  4. Thomas Götschi & Beat Hintermann, 2013. "Valuation of public investment to support bicycling (FV-09)," Working papers 2013/02, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
  5. Dennis Guignet & Anna Alberini, 2013. "Can Property Values Capture Changes in Environmental Health Risks? Evidence from a Stated Preference Study in Italy and the UK," Working Papers 2013.67, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Muhammad Rafiq & Mir Kalan Shah, 2010. "The Value of Reduced Risk of Injury and Deaths in Pakistan—Using Actual and Perceived Risk Estimates," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 49(4), pages 823–837.
  7. Wehn-Jyuan Tsai & Jin-Tan Liu & James Hammitt, 2011. "Aggregation Biases in Estimates of the Value per Statistical Life: Evidence from Longitudinal Matched Worker-Firm Data in Taiwan," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(3), pages 425-443, July.
  8. Rohlfs, Chris & Sullivan, Ryan & Kniesner, Thomas J., 2012. "New Estimates of the Value of a Statistical Life Using Air Bag Regulations as a Quasi-Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 6994, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Polat, Sezgin, 2013. "Wage Compensation for Risk: The Case of Turkey," GIAM Working Papers 13-11, Galatasaray University Economic Research Center.

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