Offsetting Behavior in the Workplace
University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
April 14, 2003
George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 03-19
This paper examines the effect of workplace safety regulations on worker safety. Studies in this area must overcome the issue that regulations and worker safety are jointly determined and that regulatory resources are likely to focus on the worst offenders. We examine the effects of regulatory enforcement in the 1990s on occupational death rates by state in major industries, and propose an instrumental variables technique to isolate the causal effect of regulatory enforcement on worker safety. We find that more inspections lead to higher death rates at a statistically significant level. This counter-intuitive result suggests that increased worker safety measures induce riskier behaviors on the part of workers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: OSHA, Safety, Labor Regulation, Offsetting Behavior
Date posted: April 25, 2003
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