Did workers pay for the passage of workers’ compensation laws?

Price V. Fishback, Shawn Everett Kantor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Market responses to legislative reforms often mitigate the expected gains that reformers promise in legislation. Contemporaries hailed workers' compensation as a boon to workers because it raised the amount of postaccident compensation paid to injured workers. Despite the large gains to workers, employers often supported the legislation. Analysis of several wage samples from the early 1900s shows that employers were able to pass a significant part of the added costs of higher postaccident compensation on to some workers in the form of reductions in wages. The size of the wage offsets, however, was smaller for union workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)713-742
Number of pages30
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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