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Gender, Occupation Choice and the Risk of Death at Work

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  • Thomas DeLeire
  • Helen Levy

Abstract

Women and men tend to work in different occupations. Although a great deal of research has been devoted to the measurement of trends in occupation segregation by gender, very little work has focused on the underlying job choice process that generates this segregation. What makes men and women choose the jobs they do? Using employment data from the 1995 - 1998 Current Population Surveys and data on occupational injuries and deaths from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we estimate conditional logit models of occupation choice as a function of the risk of work-related death and other job characteristics. Our results suggest that women choose safer jobs than men. Within gender, we find that single moms or dads are most averse to fatal risk, presumably because they have the most to lose. The effect of parenthood on married women is larger than its effect on married men, which is consistent with the idea that men's contributions to raising children are more fully insured than women's. Overall, men and women's different preferences for risk can explain about one-quarter of the fact that men and women choose different occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas DeLeire & Helen Levy, 2001. "Gender, Occupation Choice and the Risk of Death at Work," NBER Working Papers 8574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8574 Note: HC
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    1. Preston, Jo Anne, 1999. "Occupational gender segregation Trends and explanations," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 611-624.
    2. Boisso, Dale & Hayes, Kathy & Hirschberg, Joseph & Silber, Jacques, 1994. "Occupational segregation in the multidimensional case : Decomposition and tests of significance," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 161-171, March.
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    7. Case, Anne & Paxson, Christina, 2001. "Mothers and others: who invests in children's health?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 301-328, May.
    8. Martin Watts, 1998. "Occupational gender segregation: Index measureiient and econometric modeling," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(4), pages 489-496, November.
    9. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ellen Garbarino & Robert Slonim & Justin Sydnor, 2011. "Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, February.
    2. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Tan, Michelle, 2011. "Noncognitive skills, occupational attainment, and relative wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-13, January.
    3. Havet, Nathalie, 2004. "Écarts salariaux et disparités professionnelles entre sexes : développements théoriques et validité empirique," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 80(1), pages 5-39, Mars.
    4. Sherman Folland, 2006. "Value of life and behavior toward health risks: an interpretation of social capital," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(2), pages 159-171.
    5. John Leeth & John Ruser, 2006. "Safety segregation: The importance of gender, race, and ethnicity on workplace risk," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(2), pages 123-152, August.
    6. Braakmann Nils, 2013. "What Determines Wage Inequality Among Young German University Graduates?," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 233(2), pages 130-158, April.
    7. repec:zbw:rwirep:0028 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Folland, Sherman, 2007. "Does "community social capital" contribute to population health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 64(11), pages 2342-2354, June.
    9. Sandra Schaffner & Jochen Kluve, 2007. "Gender Wage Differentials and the Occupational Injury Risk - Evidence from Germany and the US," Ruhr Economic Papers 0028, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    10. Kluve, Jochen & Schaffner, Sandra, 2007. "Gender Wage Differentials and the Occupational Injury Risk - Evidence from Germany and the US," Ruhr Economic Papers 28, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.

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    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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