The Irony of Reform: Did Large Employers Subvert Workplace Safety Reform, 1869 to 1930?
Between 1869 and the early 1900s state governments regulated safety in mines and factories and reformed the liability for accidents. Reformers sought to reduce workers' risks and ensure that those involved in accidents received reasonable medical care and compensation for lost earnings. Yet large employers often wielded significant clout. This paper explores the extent to which large employers, measured by average number of employees, subverted the safety reform process, including the adoption of safety legislation, its scope, and the resources devoted to enforcement. The findings vary by industry. In coal mining large employers followed a defensive strategy, limiting the breadth of regulation, pressing for regulations that were enforced more against workers than against employers, and weakening enforcement. In manufacturing, on the other hand, safety regulations were introduced earlier in states with larger average establishment sizes. Reformers may have succeeded in imposing regulations on large manufacturing employers. However, the finding is also consistent with large firms working to raise rivals' costs and the analytical narratives suggest that manufacturing employers at times shaped the legislation to their benefit and that the regulations were often poorly enforced.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2005|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as The Irony of Reform. Did Large Employers Subvert Workplace Safety Reform, 1869 to 1930? , Price V. Fishback. in Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History , Glaeser and Goldin. 2006|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000.
"The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
- Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001.
"The Rise of the Regulatory State,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1934, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Kim, Seung-Wook & Fishback, Price V., 1993. "Institutional Change, Compensating Differentials, and Accident Risk in American Railroding, 1892–1945," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(04), pages 796-823, December.
- Steven Shavell, 2003.
"Economic Analysis of Accident Law,"
NBER Working Papers
9483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Casey B. Mulligan & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Population and Regulation," NBER Working Papers 10234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 2000. "A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish00-1, 07.
- Bartel, Ann P & Thomas, Lacy Glenn, 1985. "Direct and Indirect Effects of Regulation: A New Look at OSHA's Impact," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-25, April.
- George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
- Fishback, Price V., 1986. "Workplace safety during the progressive era: Fatal accidents in bituminous coal mining, 1912-1923," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 269-298, July.
- Fishback, Price V & Kantor, Shawn Everett, 1995.
"Did Workers Pay for the Passage of Workers' Compensation Laws?,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 713-42, August.
- Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 1994. "Did Workers Pay for the Passage of Workers' Compensation Laws?," NBER Working Papers 4947, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11058. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.