The Value of Working Conditions in the United States and Implications for the Structure of Wages

89 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2018

See all articles by Nicole Maestas

Nicole Maestas

Harvard Medical School - Department of Health Care Policy

Kathleen Mullen

RAND Corporation

David Powell

RAND Corporation

Till Von Wachter

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics

Jeffrey B. Wenger

RAND Corporation; American University - School of Public Affairs

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2018

Abstract

This paper documents variation in working conditions among workers in the United States, presents new estimates of how workers value these conditions, and assesses the impact of working conditions on estimates of the wage structure and inequality. We use evidence from a series of stated-preference experiments to estimate workers’ willingness-to-pay for a broad set of job characteristics, which we validate with actual job choices. We find that working conditions vary substantially across workers, play a significant role in job choice decisions, and are central components of the compensation received by workers. Preferences vary by demographic groups and throughout the wage distribution. We find that accounting for differences in preferences for working conditions often exacerbates wage differentials by race, age, and education, and intensifies measures of wage inequality.

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Suggested Citation

Maestas, Nicole and Mullen, Kathleen and Powell, David and Von Wachter, Till and Wenger, Jeffrey B., The Value of Working Conditions in the United States and Implications for the Structure of Wages (October 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25204. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3274430

Nicole Maestas (Contact Author)

Harvard Medical School - Department of Health Care Policy ( email )

180 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Kathleen Mullen

RAND Corporation

David Powell

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Till Von Wachter

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Economics ( email )

8283 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1477
United States

Jeffrey B. Wenger

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA
United States
310 393 0411 (Phone)

American University - School of Public Affairs ( email )

Washington, DC 20016
United States

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