Changing Inequality in Markets for Workplace Amenities

51 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2000

See all articles by Daniel S. Hamermesh

Daniel S. Hamermesh

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: April 1998

Abstract

We know that earnings inequality has increased sharply in the United States since the late 1970s, but there has been no evidence on the changing inequality of nonmonetary aspects of work nor on how any such changes are related to changes in earnings. I begin by studying patterns of interindustry differences in occupational injuries during 1979-95, breaking the total burden of injuries into its components, risk of injury and injury duration. In those industries where earnings rose relatively, we observed a relative drop in injury rates and in the total burden of injuries. Obversely, during the 1960s interindustry wage differentials narrowed, a decline that was associated with an increase in the relative risk of injury in high-wage industries. Evidence for large sectors of Dutch industry from 1974-92 suggests that injury rates there fell most in sectors where wages grew most rapidly. Examination of another workplace disamenity, working evenings or nights, shows analogous results for the period 1973-91: This disamenity was increasingly borne by low-wage male workers. Changes in earnings inequality thus have understated absolute changes in inequality in the returns to work. All the outcomes are readily explicable as income effects of exogenous shocks to the distribution of full earnings in the presence of skill-neutral changes in the cost of reducing workplace disamenities. Under reasonable assumptions we can infer from the estimates that the demand for the amenities, workplace safety and desirable work times, is highly income-elastic.

Suggested Citation

Hamermesh, Daniel S., Changing Inequality in Markets for Workplace Amenities (April 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6515. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226256

Daniel S. Hamermesh (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Economics ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-475-8526 (Phone)
512-471-3510 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
17
Abstract Views
856
PlumX Metrics