Economic consequences of workplace injuries in the United States: Findings from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79)

Am J Ind Med. 2016 Feb;59(2):106-18. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22559. Epub 2016 Jan 4.


Background: This study explored economic consequences of work-related injuries using a longitudinal data source.

Methods: Data were from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 cohort (n = 12,686). Short-term consequences were measured when the injury was reported. "Difference-in-differences" approach was applied to estimate income and wealth disparities between injured and non-injured workers before and after injury. Fixed effects models were used to identify variations over time.

Results: The annual earnings growth was $3,715 (in 2000 dollars) less for workers with DAFW injury and $1,152 less for workers with NDAFW injury compared to non-injured workers during a 10-year follow-up. Lost wages and disability following injury contributed to income loss for injured workers, but the loss was moderated by union membership. After controlling for confounders, income disparities persisted, but family wealth differences did not.

Conclusions: Occupational injuries exacerbate income inequality. Efforts to reduce such disparities should include workplace safety and health enforcement.

Keywords: construction industry; family net worth; longitudinal study; occupational injury; wage; wage-and-salary income; wealth; work-related injury; workers' compensation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Occupational Injuries / economics*
  • Salaries and Fringe Benefits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workplace / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult