Bender, K A and Green, C and Heywood, J S (2010) Piece Rates and Workplace Injury: Does Survey Evidence Support Adam Smith? Working Paper. The Department of Economics, Lancaster University.
While piece rates are routinely associated with greater productivity and higher wages, they may also generate unanticipated effects. This paper uses cross-country European data to provide among the first broad survey evidence of a strong link between piece rates and workplace injury. Despite unusually good controls for workplace hazards, job characteristics and worker effort, workers on piece rates suffer a large 5 percentage point greater likelihood of injury. As injury rates are typically not controlled for when estimating the premium to piece rates, this raises the specter that a portion of the return to piece rates reflects a compensating wage differential for risk of injury.
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