Dangerous jobs pay a risk premium

by Grace


FavData shared the graph on the left that shows the percentage of males holding various types of jobs, indicated by bars shaded yellow.  Click the graph to enlarge for details.

At the top are pre-k teachers (2.3% male) and at the bottom are boilermakers (99.8% male).  Second from the bottom with 99.6% male are “drillers of earth”, an intriguing term for a job with which I’m familiar, at least those drillers who work in the oil industry.  When I worked at drilling sites as a petroleum geologist, I never ran across any female wellsite workers in any category.

How does this tie in with the gender wage gap?

This graph seems consistent with BLS data showing that in 2012 “92% of all workplace fatalities were men”.  The bottom section of the graph shows men dominate jobs that involve risky physical activities handling heavy equipment.  I recall it was not uncommon and almost a mark of honor for an oil well worker to be missing a finger.  Economist Mark Perry sees a link to the gender wage gap.

… Isn’t it realistic to assume that men naturally show greater tolerance than women for risky, physically demanding, dangerous work in extreme outdoor conditions, and women put a higher priority on office work environments that are low-risk, indoors, safe and pleasant? Higher (lower) risk = higher (lower) wages, ceteris paribus, and women on average may be perfectly willing to accept lower wages for lower risk jobs, which would contribute to the unadjusted gender wage gap.


Mark J. Perry, “Washing windows hanging from a rope 12 stories above the ground, I hope he’s getting paid a risk premium”, Carpe Diem, September 9, 2014.

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