NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of OSHA and EPA Regulation on Productivity

Wayne B. Gray

NBER Working Paper No. 1405
Issued in July 1984
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper presents estimates of the impact of OSHA and EPA regulation on productivity. Production information for 1450 manufacturing industries from 1958 to 1980 is merged with measures of regulation, including both information on compliance expenditures by industry and enforcement efforts by OSHA and EPA. Industries that faced higher regulation during the 1970s had significantly lower productivity growth, and a greater productivity slowdown, than industries that faced lower regulation. Under certain assumptions, the regulation is estimated to have reduced average industry productivity growth by .57 percent per year, 39 percent of the average productivity slowdown. These results are robust to variations in the model and the inclusion of other productivity determinants, including poor output growth and dependence on energy. The results also suggest a one-time cost of adjustment to regulation, so the long-run impact nay be less than that estimated here. Both OSHA and EPA are found to target their enforcement effort towards those industries that are doing poorly in meeting the goals of the regulation. However, in the only area where benefits from regulation can be examined, worker injury rates and OSHA safety inspections, no significant benefits are found.

download in pdf format
   (424 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (424 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1405

Published:

  • Gray, Wayne B. "The Impact of OSHA and EPA Regulation on Productivity," Productivity versus OSHA and EPA Regulations, Research of Business Decisions series, No. 86, series ed. Richard N. Farmer, Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press , 1986. ,
  • American Economic Review, vol. 77, no. 5, December 1987

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Bartel and Thomas w1660 Predation through Regulation: The Wage and Profit Impacts of OSHA and EPA
Gray and Mendeloff w9119 The Declining Effects of OSHA Inspections on Manufacturing Injuries: 1979 to 1998
Gray and Scholz w2813 A Behavioral Approach to Compliance: OSHA Enforcement's Impact on Workplace Accidents
Gray and Jones w3233 Are OSHA Health Inspections Effective? A Longitudinal Study in the Manufacturing Sector
Jaffe and Palmer w5545 Environmental Regulation and Innovation: A Panel Data Study
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us