Gender, Occupation Choice and the Risk of Death at Work

Thomas DeLeire, Helen Levy

NBER Working Paper No. 8574
Issued in November 2001
NBER Program(s):Health Care

Women and men tend to work in different occupations. Although a great deal of research has been devoted to the measurement of trends in occupation segregation by gender, very little work has focused on the underlying job choice process that generates this segregation. What makes men and women choose the jobs they do? Using employment data from the 1995 - 1998 Current Population Surveys and data on occupational injuries and deaths from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we estimate conditional logit models of occupation choice as a function of the risk of work-related death and other job characteristics. Our results suggest that women choose safer jobs than men. Within gender, we find that single moms or dads are most averse to fatal risk, presumably because they have the most to lose. The effect of parenthood on married women is larger than its effect on married men, which is consistent with the idea that men's contributions to raising children are more fully insured than women's. Overall, men and women's different preferences for risk can explain about one-quarter of the fact that men and women choose different occupations.

download in pdf format
   (314 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8574

Published: DeLeire, Thomas and Helen Levy. "Worker Sorting and The Risk Of Death On The Job," Journal of Labor Economics, 2004, v22(4,Oct), 925-953.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Blau and Kahn w7732 Gender Differences in Pay
Buser, Niederle, and Oosterbeek w18576 Gender, Competitiveness and Career Choices
Thaler and Rosen The Value of Saving a Life: Evidence from the Labor Market
Borghans, Golsteyn, Heckman, and Meijers w14713 Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion
Kaplan and Rodrik w8142 Did the Malaysian Capital Controls Work?
NBER Videos

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

Contact Us