Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dying To Do a Man's Job

The chart above shows that men suffered much more from fatal occupational injuries (4,703) in 2008 than women (368), by a factor of almost 13 to 1 (BLS data here).

Given the huge male-female occupational death gap, which has persisted over many decades, it is surprising that it has received so little attention as one important factor that could explain some of the male-female pay gap. To achieve greater female-male pay equity there would most likely have to be an increase in the number of women in higher-paying but higher-risk occupations. That outcome will certainly reduce the gender pay gap, but it would come at a cost—significantly more fatal occupational deaths and injuries for women. Would closing the pay gap, if it also means closing the gender occupational death gap, really be worth it?

Read my full post here at
The Enterprise Blog.


At 10/02/2009 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the changes that is occuring is that women are moving into at least a few of the professions that are dangerous, starting with airline pilots. Truck driving is another.
In addition some women are moving into some parts of construction as well. Note that some of the fatality issues are due to not being able to make a business case for available safer equipment. For example oil drilling where there exist rigs that all pipe handling is done by robots so there is no chain throwing, and minimal direct human handling of pipe segments.

At 10/02/2009 10:23 AM, Blogger QT said...


"some of the fatality issues are due to not being able to make a business case for available safer equipment".

Could you provide some data to document the extent of such activity?

Occuaptional fatalities were the lowest # in 2008 than any year since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program
was first conducted in 1992
. It is notable that transportation incidents accounted for 2/3 of all fatalities. Airline fatalities accounte for only 189 deaths (3.8%) (how many of these represented passengers vs. airline personnel is not stated).

In my industry, construction, there have been huge advances in safety, for example in fall prevention and material handling. Accidents very often occur as a result of human error ie. a wiring error recently resulted in 640 amps going through a regular electrical receptacle. The error could have resulted in an accident but fortunately, only destroyed a drill that was plugged into the receptacle.

I find it difficult to believe that companies would find it profitable to kill their workers. Declining workplace fatalities would seem to suggest otherwise.

At 10/02/2009 10:54 PM, Blogger Lones Smith said...

- Exaggerate life value to $10M
- Assume 100M men working
- Exaggerate deaths to 5000
- Then death chance is 5000/100M
- So wage premium would then be at most $10M*5000/100M=$500
- Is this the size of the premium we are trying to explain?


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