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Compensating Differentials for Occupational Health and Safety Risks: Implications of Recent Evidence

aClaremont Graduate University, USA
bVanderbilt Law School, USA

50th Celebratory Volume

ISBN: 978-1-80455-126-4, eISBN: 978-1-80455-125-7

Publication date: 23 January 2023


The most enduring measure of how individuals make personal decisions affecting their health and safety is the compensating wage differential for job safety risk revealed in the labor market via hedonic equilibrium outcomes. The decisions in turn reveal the value of a statistical life (VSL), the value of a statistical injury (VSI), and the value of a statistical life year (VSLY), which have both mortality and morbidity aspects that we describe and apply here. All such tradeoff rates play important roles in policy decisions concerning improving individual welfare. Specifically, we explicate the recent empirical research on VSL and its related concepts and link the empirical results to the ongoing examinations of many government policies intended to improve individuals' health and longevity. We pay special attention to recent issues such as the COVID pandemic and newly emerging foci on distributional consequences concerning which demographic groups may benefit most from certain regulations.




We are grateful to Jon Schwabish for his expert help with data visualization and to Scott Jeffrey for skillful research assistance.


Kniesner, T.J. and Viscusi, W.K. (2023), "Compensating Differentials for Occupational Health and Safety Risks: Implications of Recent Evidence", Polachek, S.W. and Tatsiramos, K. (Ed.) 50th Celebratory Volume (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 50), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 83-116.



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