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Did we Overestimat the Value of Health?

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  • Rafael Lalive

Abstract

Adam Smith's idea that wage differences reveal preferences for risk rests on firm theoretical foundations. This paper argues, however, that the standard approach to identify these differentials in practice may be flawed. Empirical practice usually identifies compensating wage differentials for risk by regressing individual wages on aggregate measures of risk, usually industry or occupation average risk. If jobs differ within industries or occupations, the ''aggregate approach'' may identify arbitrary compensating differentials for risk. In a dataset with precise information on job risk as well as aggregate risk, I demonstrate that using aggregate risk identifies wage differentials that are two to five times larger than wage differentials based on job risk information. This result is robust to controlling for time constant unobserved individual or job heterogeneity.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 060.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:060

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Keywords: value of life; value of health; compensating wage differentials; occupational illness;

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Cited by:
  1. Del Bono, Emilia & Weber, Andrea, 2006. "Do Wages Compensate for Anticipated Working Time Restrictions? Evidence from Seasonal Employment in Austria," IZA Discussion Papers 2242, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Konstantinos, Pouliakas & Ioannis, Theodossiou, 2010. "An Inquiry Into the Theory, Causes and Consequences of Monitoring Indicators of Health and Safety At Work," MPRA Paper 20336, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. 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.
  4. Goucher, Jeremy & Horrace, William C., 2012. "The value of life: Real risks and safety-related productivity in the Himalaya," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 27-32.
  5. Dan A. Black & Thomas K. Kniesner, 2003. "On the Measurement of Job Risk in Hedonic Wage Models," NCEE Working Paper Series 200306, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised Aug 2003.
  6. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-37 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Andreas Kuhn & Oliver Ruf, 2009. "The Value of a Statistical Injury: New Evidence from the Swiss Labor Market," NRN working papers 2009-15, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  8. Xiangdong Wei, 2007. "Wage compensation for job-related illness: Evidence from a matched employer and employee survey in the UK," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 85-98, February.

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