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No Pain, No Gain: Work Demand, Work Effort, and Worker Health

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  • David Hummels
  • Jakob Munch
  • Chong Xiang

Abstract

We combine Danish data on individuals’ health with Danish matched worker-firm data, and find: One, within job spells, as firm sales increases, workers log longer hours and experience higher probabilities of stress and depression, and heart diseases and strokes; Two, the effects of firm sales on adverse health outcomes are more pronounced for high-risk groups: older workers, job-strained workers, and those with long initial work hours; Three, the worker cohorts who experience large sales increases develop higher risks of sickness in subsequent quarters. These novel results suggest that work demand increases individuals’ workplace stress and elevates their sickness risk. We then compute the marginal disutility of our sickness variables, and show that the average worker’s ex-ante welfare loss due to higher sickness rates accounts for nearly one quarter of her earnings gains from rising firm sales.

Suggested Citation

  • David Hummels & Jakob Munch & Chong Xiang, 2016. "No Pain, No Gain: Work Demand, Work Effort, and Worker Health," NBER Working Papers 22365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22365
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    2. Gihleb, Rania & Giuntella, Osea & Stella, Luca & Wang, Tianyi, 2020. "Industrial Robots, Workers' Safety, and Health," IZA Discussion Papers 13672, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Jérôme Adda & Yarine Fawaz, 2020. "The Health Toll of Import Competition," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(630), pages 1501-1540.
    4. Molina, Teresa & Tanaka, Mari, 2020. "Globalization and Female Empowerment: Evidence from Myanmar," IZA Discussion Papers 13957, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Barbara Dluhosch & Daniel Horgos, 2019. "International Competition Intensified: Job Satisfaction Sacrificed?," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 143(2), pages 479-504, June.
    6. Mari Tanaka, 2020. "Exporting Sweatshops? Evidence from Myanmar," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(3), pages 442-456, July.
    7. Colantone, Italo & Crinò, Rosario & Ogliari, Laura, 2019. "Globalization and mental distress," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 181-207.
    8. Feng, Jin & Xie, Qiang & Zhang, Xiaohan, 2021. "Trade liberalization and the health of working-age adults: Evidence from China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    9. Fan, Haichao & Lin, Faqin & Lin, Shu, 2020. "The hidden cost of trade liberalization: Input tariff shocks and worker health in China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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