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A Note on the 'Union Effect' in VSL Studies


Philip E. Graves


University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics

June 2, 2009


Abstract:     
Viscusi and Aldy (2003) observe that "most studies of the U.S. labor market find that union affiliation is positively correlated with a greater wage-risk tradeoff while international evidence is much more mixed." They provide several arguments as to why the risk premium might be higher for union members (marginal versus average worker preference, the quasi-public good nature of workplace safety, and better safety information for the unionized). An alternative explanation - concentration of union membership in undesirable locations - can account for both the apparent higher risk premium in union jobs in the United States and the failure to find that gap in the international setting. Moreover, the explanation advanced here can account for the anomalous finding in several papers that non-union workers appear to have negative compensating differentials for risk.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: value of statistical life, compensating differentials, safety, amenities

JEL Classification: I10, J17, J28, J31

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Date posted: June 4, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Graves, Philip E., A Note on the 'Union Effect' in VSL Studies (June 2, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1413322 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1413322

Contact Information

Philip E. Graves (Contact Author)
University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )
Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309-0256
United States
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