Inequalities in nonfatal work injury: the significance of race, human capital, and occupations

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Dec;57(11):2173-82. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(03)00073-x.


Little research is conducted to examine the determinants of nonfatal injury on the job. In particular, this study stresses the importance of race, human capital, and occupational conditions in explaining nonfatal injury at work. It measures nonfatal work injury as an episode of work injury, using the data from the 1988 Occupational Health Supplement (1988 OHS) to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). First, this study confirms no association between race and nonfatal injury at work. Second, the findings show that human capital, expressed through education and work experience, is the crucial determinant of nonfatal injury at work. In general, workers of more years of schooling and more work experience encounter less nonfatal injury at work than their counterparts. Third, the results also demonstrate the significance of occupational conditions (occupational positions and work activity) for nonfatal injury at work. Specifically, workers in professional occupations experience less work injury than workers in production occupations, but more work injury than workers engaged in clerical jobs. Even after controlling for occupational positions, there is a significant correlation between work activity and nonfatal work injury. Our study is a first step towards the causation of nonfatal injury on the job in terms of race, human capital, and occupational conditions. Therefore, the next step of work injury study needs to consider the influence of the other important determinants on nonfatal injury at work.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Causality
  • Educational Status*
  • Employment / classification
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Occupations / classification
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Racial Groups / ethnology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sociology, Medical
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data