NLS user since 2004
I study the long term socio-economic outcomes of occupational injuries. Through the use of the NLSY79, my research has shown that - depending on the survey round - between 5% and 8% of surveyed workers reported being involved in an occupational incident. Only 56% of all recalled occupational injuries and illnesses resulted in workers’ compensation claims, however. An even more concerning results is that income losses were reported following almost one fourth of the incidents that were not filed as workers’ compensation claims. Together with my coauthors, I found that occupational injuries produce lifetime economic losses that go beyond foregone labor earnings. They lead to a decline in household net worth and household consumption. Also 37% of all surveyed workers who had experienced one on-the-job accident reported at least one additional injury. The possibility to exploit individual risk tolerance measure permits us to explore and dismiss the “injury proneness” hypothesis as an explanation of recurrent injuries. Vice versa, lower educational levels, less tenure, work in dangerous industries and unskilled occupations, and job demands are found to be important determinants of multiple on the job injuries. The most interesting results, however, refer to the role played by individuals’ pre-injury characteristics: early exposure to dangerous jobs is among the main determinants of higher counts of occupational injuries later in life. Early health limitations are also significant predictors of recurrent workers’ compensation claims. These results provide new evidence about the important role played by both the health and the socioeconomic status of young people as determinants of their future occupational injuries.
For my research agenda the NLSY79 data has proven to be a unique and extremely useful tool of analysis. Compared to the administrative data that are often used to study the topic of occupational injuries, the NLSY79 data also cover workers who never experienced an injury who can be compared to workers who were injured and to those injured workers who filed or did not file a workers' compensation claim; data are available for workers who had no compensable injury-related work absence (such as a medical only claims) as well as those who had indemnity claims; data are available in the same format for all 50 states; workers are followed over a long time period; and for those workers who got injured on the job, the data allow identification of a sequence of recalled episodes starting as early as in 1987 when respondents’ age ranged between 22 and 31 years. Finally the richness of the NLSY79 permits to investigate the role played by pre-injury individual worker and job characteristics in determining both occupational injuries and workers’ compensation claims over a very long spell (up to thirteen years) of individual early working histories. And the data extremely rich longitudinal information permits an analysis of the socio-economic outcomes of occupational incidents that is very rarely matched by other data sources both within the U.S and abroad.