Risky jobs?

Despite rules and regulations governing the workplace, all jobs aren’t the same when it comes to risk, says host Mary Walden. Some are just inherently more risking than others. She asks her husband, N.C. State economist Mike Walden, “If everything else were equal, it seems like people would rather take safer jobs. Why don’t they?”

Mike Walden says, “Well, in fact I’ve had some personal experience with this. My first job, Mary, was delivering furniture, a much more risky job than my current job as a university professor. In fact, I had a couple of injuries, physical injuries, delivering furniture — walking through a glass-plated window one time or a door one time.  Anyway, I think you hit really upon the answer in your question. That is, everything else is not equal.

“In general, if you adjust for the amount of training that’s needed for a particular job, one reason that some people may take riskier jobs is they pay more. That is, you’re going to get a higher rate of pay; you’re going to get higher salary. And you have to make a judgment of whether the added risk was worth it.

“Another element that’s in this mix that economists have found is that the type of person who takes risky jobs perhaps has a different psychological approach to jobs, one in which they are willing to perhaps put some of their physical condition on the line in order to earn more money today, recognizing that down the road they may not be able to do that job.

“So, these may be people who tend to live more for now. In economics lingo they have a ‘higher discount rate.’ So, we do have to applaud the fact that there are people out there willing to take riskier jobs, and it really often comes down to a personal evaluation based on what people like to do.”


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