Accidents and Injuries among Shift Workers: A Neglected Dimension of Labor Force Inequality

Lijuan Wu, University of Maryland

About one-fifth of all employed Americans worked on evenings, nights, and rotating shifts in late 1990s. Biological research suggests that non-day shifts are associated with physiological conditions that increase the risk of accidents and injuries, whether on the job or not. This is an important non-monetary dimension of inequality in the labor market, which we know very little about at the national level. In this paper, we explore this relationship using data from the 1996 household component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. We demonstrate that non-day shift workers face a higher risk of accidents and injuries in general, and accidents and injuries at work specifically. Moreover, non-day shifts are associated with injuries and accidents of greater severity. The policy implications of this research are discussed at the end of the paper.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health and Mortality