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Did we Overestimate the Value of Health?


Lalive, Rafael (2000). Did we Overestimate the Value of Health? Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 60, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Adam Smith's idea that wage differences reveal preferences for risk rests on firm theoretical foundations. This paper argues, however, that the standard approach to identify these differentials in practice may be flawed. Empirical practice usually identifies compensating wage differentials for risk by regressing individual wages on aggregate measures of risk, usually industry or occupation average risk. If jobs differ within industries or occupations, the ''aggregate approach'' may identify arbitrary compensating differentials for risk. In a dataset with precise information on job risk as well as aggregate risk, I demonstrate that using aggregate risk identifies wage differentials that are two to five times larger than wage differentials based on job riskninformation. This result is robust to controlling for time constant unobserved individual or job heterogeneity.

Adam Smith's idea that wage differences reveal preferences for risk rests on firm theoretical foundations. This paper argues, however, that the standard approach to identify these differentials in practice may be flawed. Empirical practice usually identifies compensating wage differentials for risk by regressing individual wages on aggregate measures of risk, usually industry or occupation average risk. If jobs differ within industries or occupations, the ''aggregate approach'' may identify arbitrary compensating differentials for risk. In a dataset with precise information on job risk as well as aggregate risk, I demonstrate that using aggregate risk identifies wage differentials that are two to five times larger than wage differentials based on job riskninformation. This result is robust to controlling for time constant unobserved individual or job heterogeneity.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:October 2000
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 21:26
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:10
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-51962

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