Are recessions good for workplace safety?

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 21.10.2003, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Jan C. van Ours (Erasmus University Rotterdam)


Empirical evidence shows that in recessions the number of workplace accidents goes down. This paper presents a theory and an empirical investigation to explain this phenomenon. The theory is based on the idea that reporting an accident dents the reputation of a worker and raises the probability that he is fired. Therefore, if unemployment is high fewer workplace accidents are reported. The empirical investigation concerns workplace accidents in 16 OECD countries. We conclude that cyclical fluctuations in workplace accidents have to do with reporting behavior of workers and not with changes in workplace safety.

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