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why workers with dangerous jobs are paid

(a) Explain why workers with dangerous jobs are paid more than workers with less dangerous jobs

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The competition in the job market had shown an upward turn when we talk about the opportunities for the job seekers. There are diversified fields for the job seekers who go for the job according to their qualification and experience. But another factor is also very vital when a person seeks a job; his / her own choice regarding environment and the workplace safety is equally important. Some people like to work in office due to the peaceful, neat and clean environment but the same paradise may be hell for others just because they cannot handle the mental stress attached with the office jobs e.g. Accounting, Finance etc. On the other hand some people enjoy the jobs in the field of marketing which would not be accepted by those who like to work in isolation. But there are some jobs which are considered dangerous due to the nature of workplace. Although none of the workers may like to go for the dangerous site but the additional compensation finds attraction of some workers who opt for the dangerous work. So, keeping in view all these factors the compensation package of the employee can be assessed.

Normally the jobs which require higher qualified persons are highly paid than the jobs with lower qualified persons. It is considered that the differential amount paid to the higher educated person in compensation of the additional payment made by the person to get the education. The workplace area and the safety at workplace get a quick attention of the employees to demand extra wages. Smith used the words ‘hardship’, ‘disagreeable’ and ‘dirtiness’ for the work of colliers in Newcastle to explain why they earned two or three times more than common laborers in Scotland (1976).

The table below shows the mortality rate of ten highly dangerous vocations. The statistics have been collected by the Bureau of Labour Statistics. These statistics have been published on CNN referring to an 18 year old logger who was killed on December 3, 2002. It clearly depicts that the risk factor involved in these jobs classifies them in the category of additional compensatory jobs.


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Fatality Rate*


Timber Cutters






Pilots and Navigators



Structural Metal Workers



Drivers-Sale Workers






Electrical Power Installers



Farm Occupations



Construction Laborers



Truck Drivers


*Selected occupations had a minimum of 30 fatalities in 2002 and 45,000 employed.

According to the table it is clear that the Timber Cutters are facing the most risk and the rate of mortality has been the highest for them. People involved in fisheries are at second in the table with fatality rate of 71.1. Pilots and navigators are at third with the mortality rate of 69.8.

According to the table all these people are concerned with working outdoor except the structural metal work which is also carried on outdoor mostly. People involved driving, sailing, or flying the vehicles are all in the list which shows that all the jobs

The table above has been plotted as a chart below:

The graph above shows clearly that normally there are outdoor jobs which are considered the most dangerous jobs. Therefore people in these jobs need the security and compensation as an attraction to continue doing the job. Employers, therefore offer special allowances and compensations along with medical facility, insurance, housing etc. Not only the risk involved in the jobs but makes it paid higher but there are some other factors as well but keeping our discussion limited to the topic those are ignored here.

Some salient factors have been given below which shows why the workers with dangerous jobs are paid more.

There is a direct threat to a worker’s health and life. If a worker gets hurt due to the nature of job, he may loose any part of body and sometimes even the life. Although there are certain health safety policies adopted by the employers for their workers but the worker s are also required to take precautionary measures for the sake of his / her safety. A direct threat to his / her life means a direct threat to his / her dependents as well. Therefore an additional compensation is very much necessary for his / her and his / her family.

Different jobs have different health hazards and by implication different life expectancies. Workers in dangerous jobs are assumed to get a higher wage to compensate for the lower life expectancy and by measuring the size of that premium you can get a rough measure of the value of an extra year. It turns out that this calculation gives a strong effect: the benchmark calculation assumes that a ten percent increase in life expectancy will generate a 0.24 percentage points increase in adjusted GDP growth.

Although there may not be any physical threat to the worker due to the employers’ safety policy but still some of them get their nerves trapped by the dangerous workplace environment. In other words the worker needs compensation for the stress and anxiety he has to face due to the workplace. For example army at high peaks is allowed extra allowance for the isolation at glaciers.

The dangerous jobs also need a high level of hard work and physical efforts which is normally more than the efforts required in normal physical labour. Therefore an extra physical effort of the workers must be compensated by the employer.

The dangerous jobs being offered outdoor normally require the workers leave their homes and get a home sickness allowance against it. So the workers normally get the risk allowance plus the additional home sickness allowance at the cost of leaving their spouse and kids home.

Concluding the discussion above, it is evident that the dangerous jobs are facing high risk increasing the life uncertainty of the workers. They need life insurance for their life for their families and dependents.


Online Dictionary


Solomon. W. Polachek & W. Stanely Siebert, Economics of Earnings. Cambridge University Press 1993

America’s most dangerous jobs The top ten most dangerous jobs in America. Les Christie, CNN/Money Contributing Write http://money.cnn.com/2003/10/13/pf/dangerousjobs/

The Human Development Index. A better way of measuring welfare?

Notes on Nick Crafts, ‘The human development index and changes in standard of living: some historical comparisons. European Review of Economic History, Vol 1, 1997


Wikipadeia, Internet


Bureau of Labour Statistics


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