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When Labor Disputes Bring Cities to a Standstill: The Impact of Public Transit Strikes on Traffic, Accidents, Air Pollution, and Health

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  • Stefan Bauernschuster
  • Timo Hener
  • Helmut Rainer

Abstract

Many governments have banned strikes in public transportation. Whether this can be justified depends on whether strikes endanger public safety or health. We use time-series and cross-sectional variation in powerful registry data to quantify the effects of public transit strikes on urban populations in Germany. Due to higher traffic volumes and longer travel times, total car hours operated increase by 11 to 13 percent during strikes. This effect is accompanied by a 14 percent increase in vehicle crashes, a 20 percent increase in accident-related injuries, a 14 percent increase in particle pollution, and an 11 percent increase in hospital admissions for respiratory diseases among young children.

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  • Stefan Bauernschuster & Timo Hener & Helmut Rainer, 2017. "When Labor Disputes Bring Cities to a Standstill: The Impact of Public Transit Strikes on Traffic, Accidents, Air Pollution, and Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 1-37, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:1:p:1-37
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20150414
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J52 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Dispute Resolution: Strikes, Arbitration, and Mediation
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • R41 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - Transportation: Demand, Supply, and Congestion; Travel Time; Safety and Accidents; Transportation Noise

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