No Evidence of Compensating Wages for Occupational Fatalities



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    • *Department of Economics, San Jose State University, and Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center. I would like to thank Patti Cournoyer for her accuracy in data collection and calculations; Michael Sheetz for his computer programming; and pamela Davis for preparing the manuscript. This research was funded in part by National Science Foundation grant number SFS-8408293. Comments by Kip Viscusi, Mark Berger, Glenn Blomquist, Alan Dillingham, Norm Waitzman, and Stuart Dorsey on earlier drafts of this paper are gratefully acknowledged.


This study combines new estimates of occupational mortality with industry death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to test for compensating wages associated with job hazards. The new estimates apply to 347 three-digit occupations in the United States. An unexpected result emerges: Evidence for compensating wages is apparent only when the BLS industry death rates are used; evidence is absent with the new occupational death rates.