Temperature, Workplace Safety, and Labor Market Inequality

94 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2021

See all articles by Jisung Park

Jisung Park

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Nora M. C. Pankratz

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

A. Behrer

Stanford University

Abstract

Using data covering the universe of injury claims from the nation's largest worker's compensation system (2001-2018), we explore the relationship between temperature and workplace safety and its implications for labor market inequality. Hotter temperature increases workplace injuries significantly, causing approximately 20,000 injuries per year. The effects persist in both outdoor and indoor settings (e.g. manufacturing, warehousing), and for injury types ostensibly unrelated to temperature (e.g. falling from heights), consistent with cognitive or cost-related channels. The risks are substantially larger for men versus women; for younger versus older workers; and for workers at the lower end of the income distribution, suggesting that accounting for workplace heat exposure may exacerbate total compensation inequality. We document a decline in the heat-sensitivity of injuries over the study period, suggesting significant scope for adaptation using existing technologies.

JEL Classification: J20, J32, I18, Q50

Suggested Citation

Park, Jisung and Pankratz, Nora M. C. and Behrer, A., Temperature, Workplace Safety, and Labor Market Inequality. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14560, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3892588 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3892588

Jisung Park (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nora M. C. Pankratz

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

A. Behrer

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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