Neil Alper (1949-)
William T. Dickens, Andrew Sum
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Department or Academic Unit
Graduate School of Arts and Science. Department of Economics.
Artists, Discrimination, Earnings, Injuries, Segregation, Unions
Manpower policy, Industrial accidents - Economic aspects
Trade unions and gender discrimination are generally considered as sources of labor market imperfections. My dissertation is a study of the effects of these distortions on three specific outcomes: occupational injuries, earnings of injured workers, and gender pay differentials in the arts occupations. The first chapter of my dissertation investigates the relationship between union coverage and work-related injuries. Trade unions play a central role in establishing a safe work place at the firm level. Union representatives ensure the implementation of safety standards set by the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) and provide employees in bargaining units with education on job-specific risks. As a consequence, the injury rates of workers covered by union contracts may be expected to be lower than those of uncovered workers, given similar demographic and occupational characteristics. However, the work environment is not the sole determinant of injury rates. One additional factor is the worker's effort to avoid and minimize work-related hazards. When the personal accident-prevention activities cannot be monitored, the employee needs to face a correct system of incentives. If union representation fails to provide these incentives, covered workers may experience higher injury rates than uncovered employees. In analyzing this relationship, previous studies have failed to include controls for one or both of the following factors: 1) individual unobservable characteristics, and 2) firm-specific hazards. Using data from the NLSY79, the goal of the first chapter is to address these major limitations and provide an estimate of the effect of union coverage on the probability of nonfatal work-related injuries. The results of this chapter indicate that covered workers are about 50 percent more likely to suffer an occupational injury than similar uncovered workers. The direction of this estimate is then interpreted within a moral hazard framework, where union and nonunion workers face different incentives when they choose their level of accident-prevention activities. The second chapter examines the economic consequences of a work-related injury. Injured workers may experience reductions in earnings for multiple reasons. First, injured workers may experience temporary or permanent decreases in work hours. Second, the wage of the worker may decrease because of lower post-injury productivity caused by any loss in general, specific or health human capital. This outcome is more likely to occur when the injured worker is forced to change firms, occupation or industry. In this setting, union coverage at the time of the injury may play an important role in reducing the size of the earnings losses. Unions provide protection against dismissal without just cause and may favor the assignment of an injured worker to a different job or work schedule within the same firm, therefore decreasing the probability of quitting. Using data from the NLSY79, this chapter applies a generalization of the difference-in-differences approach to investigate the effect of union coverage on post-injury earnings. The findings indicate that union coverage is able to preserve workers' earnings in the year of the injury. However, the measures implemented to guarantee this benefit appear to translate into greater earnings' losses for those workers in the future. The third chapter investigates whether gender discrimination affects the earnings in the arts occupations. Female artists generally earn less than male artists who work in the same occupation. This gender earnings gap can be due to a combination of differences in individual characteristics (explained portion) and differences in the returns to endowments (unexplained portion). The latter have been often interpreted as an estimate of discrimination, although they could be the result of gender differences in unobservable skills. Using the Five Percent PUMS from the 2000 U.S. Census, a modified Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition technique (Yun, 2005) is applied to the gender wage gap for eleven arts occupations. The results of this chapter show that a significant unexplained pay gap, which could be attributed to discrimination, exists for female artists employed in full-time jobs. The explained portion of the gap indicates that women are often segregated into low-paying industries. A second type of decomposition (Fairlie, 2003) is then used to investigate the reasons of gender segregation across industries. These additional findings suggest that discriminatory hiring practices are likely to exist for some arts occupations.
Germiniasi, Andrea, "Labor market imperfections: effects on occupational injuries and earnings" (2010). Economics Dissertations. Paper 4. http://hdl.handle.net/2047/d20000647
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