Public Housing and Public Health: The Separate and Unequal Protection of Private and Public Housing Tenants’ Health in New York City by Justin R. La Mort :: SSRN

January 2, 2019

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants’ health are put at risk by the policies and practices of the government. Public housing tenants receive unequal treatment when compared to tenants in private housing in obtaining repairs and preventing dangerous conditions. These conditions include lead, lack of heat and hot water, and mold which can have lasting consequences to those forced to suffer in the only home they can afford. This article argues lower rent does not mean lower expectations for tenant safety. After examining the history and regulatory structure that has led to this disparate treatment, the article stresses the importance of future NYCHA reform including greater funding, transparency, accountability, and equality to ensure decent, affordable housing for all.

via Public Housing and Public Health: The Separate and Unequal Protection of Private and Public Housing Tenants’ Health in New York City by Justin R. La Mort :: SSRN


The Unintended Consequences of Flexicurity: The Health Consequences of Flexible Employment by Keith A. Bender, Ioannis Theodossiou :: SSRN

January 2, 2019

While atypical employment contracts offer flexibility in the labor market, these kinds of contracts are inherently insecure and may generate stress among affected workers. This study examines the impact of atypical forms of employment (specifically seasonal or temporary jobs or a fixed time contracts) on workers’ health. Survival analysis shows that, other things equal, the longer percent of time spent in flexible employment contracts increases the odds of falling into ill health for a variety of health conditions. The results are robust to controlling for the endogeneity in the relationship.

via The Unintended Consequences of Flexicurity: The Health Consequences of Flexible Employment by Keith A. Bender, Ioannis Theodossiou :: SSRN


Working Times and Overweight: Tight Schedules, Weaker Fitness? by Joan Costa-Font, Belén Saénz de Miera Juárez :: SSRN

October 18, 2018

Although the rise in obesity and overweight is related to time constraints influencing health investments (e.g., exercise, shopping and cooking time, etc.), there is limited causal evidence to substantiate such claims. This paper estimates the causal effect of a change in working times on overweight and obesity drawing from evidence from the Aubrey reform implemented in the beginning of the past decade in France. We use longitudinal data from GAZEL (INSERM) 1997-2006 that contains detailed information about health indicators, including measures of height and weight. Taking the Alsace-Mosselle department as a control group and a difference-in-differences strategy, we estimate the effect of a differential reduction in working times on body weight. Our results show evidence of 0.7% increase in average BMI an 8pp increase in the probability of overweight among blue collars exposed to the reform. In contrast, we find no effect among white collar workers. The effects are robust to different specifications and placebo tests.

via Working Times and Overweight: Tight Schedules, Weaker Fitness? by Joan Costa-Font, Belén Saénz de Miera Juárez :: SSRN


How the U.S. Supreme Court Deemed the Workers’ Compensation Grand Bargain ‘Adequate’ Without Defining Adequacy by Michael C. Duff :: SSRN

September 15, 2018

During the second and third decades of the twentieth century, the U. S. Supreme Court issued a handful of opinions rejecting 14th Amendment constitutional challenges by employers to implementation of workers’ compensation statutes in the United States. Unknown to many, the statutes were largely the fruit of privately-sponsored investigations, principally by the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Association of Manufacturers, of European workers’ compensation systems during the first decade of the twentieth century. Some of those systems had been in existence since the 1870s and 1880s, and many employers preferred them to newly-emerging American employer liability statutes that retained tort liability while eliminating many or all affirmative defenses. The Minnesota Employees’ Compensation Commission and the National Civic Federation (NCF) catalyzed the national conversation on workers’ compensation from 1909-1911, and it was an NCF lawyer who was substantially responsible for a draft that became the first workers’ compensation statute upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional. Contrary to the view held by some, the foundational Supreme Court opinions constitutionally authorizing the workers’ compensation “Grand Bargain” — statutory benefits for tort damages — set no workers’ compensation benefit floor. The article parses the opinions to emphasize the point, and then goes on to explore the context of what seems a strange omission. Ultimately, the article concludes that the Court “deferred,” sub silentio, to the private bodies of experts who had been investigating, reporting, and deliberating upon the European systems. The difficulty with the Court’s approach is that little has been left to posterity explaining what scale of employee benefits the Court might have deemed inadequate or unreasonable as an exchange for employee tort damages. The pregnant silence on federal constitutional boundaries continues to impact current discussions on limits to legislative reductions of workers’ compensation benefits. This absence of an explicit benefit floor should give pause to proponents of schemes seeking to export the workers’ compensation model to other legal regimes.

via How the U.S. Supreme Court Deemed the Workers’ Compensation Grand Bargain ‘Adequate’ Without Defining Adequacy by Michael C. Duff :: SSRN


Economics of Child Protection: Maltreatment, Foster Care, and Intimate Partner Violence by Joseph J. Doyle, Anna Aizer :: SSRN

September 15, 2018

Violence within families and child neglect are strikingly common: 700,000 children are found to be victims of abuse or neglect in the United States each year; over the course of childhood, 6% of children are placed in foster care, and 18% witness intimate partner violence. These children are at much higher risks of homelessness, criminal justice involvement, unemployment, and chronic health conditions compared to their neighbors. This article reviews the state of the economics literature on the causes and consequences of child maltreatment and intimate partner violence and calls for greater research into interventions aimed at improving child well-being.

via Economics of Child Protection: Maltreatment, Foster Care, and Intimate Partner Violence by Joseph J. Doyle, Anna Aizer :: SSRN


Driving While Stoned: Issues and Policy Options

May 17, 2018

THC is the intoxicant most commonly detected in US drivers, with approximately 13% of drivers testing positive for marijuana use, compared to the 8% that show a measurable amount of alcohol (NHTSA, 2015). (The two figures are not strictly comparable because cannabis remains detectable for much longer than alcohol, and also for long after the driver is no longer impaired; therefore, the difference in rates does not show that stoned driving is more common than drunk driving.) Cannabis intoxication has been shown to impair reaction time and visual-spatial judgment.

Many states, including those where cannabis sales are now permitted by state law, have laws against cannabis-impaired driving based on the drunk-driving model, defining criminally intoxicated driving as driving with more than a threshold amount of intoxicant in one’s bloodstream—a per se standard—as opposed to actual impairment. That approach neglects crucial differences between alcohol and cannabis in their detectability, their pharmacokinetics, and their impact on highway safety.

Cannabis intoxication is more difficult to reliably detect chemically than alcohol intoxication. A breath alcohol test is (1) cheap and reliable; (2) sufficiently simple and non-invasive to administer at the roadside; and (3) a good proxy for alcohol in the brain, which in turn is (4) a good proxy for subjective intoxication and for measurable driving impairment. In addition, (5) the dose-effect curve linking blood alcohol to fatality risk is well-established and steep.

None of those things is true for cannabis. A breath test remains to be developed. Oral-fluid testing can demonstrate recent use but not the level of impairment. A blood test requires a trained phlebotomist and therefore a trip to a medical facility, and blood THC levels drop very sharply over time-periods measured in minutes. Blood THC is not a good proxy either for recency of use or for impairment, and the dose-effect curve for fatality risk remains a matter of sharp controversy. The maximum risk for cannabis intoxication alone, unmixed with alcohol or other drugs, appears to be more comparable to risks such as talking on a hands-free cellphone (legal in all states) than to driving with a BAC above 0.08, let alone the rapidly-rising risks at higher BACs. Moreover, the lipid-solubility of THC means that a frequent cannabis user will always have measurable THC in his or her blood, even when that person has not used recently and is neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired. That suggests criminalizing only combination use, while treating driving under the influence of cannabis (however this is to be proven) as a traffic offense, like speeding.

via Driving While Stoned: Issues and Policy Options by Mark A.R. Kleiman, Tyler Jones , Celeste Miller, Ross Halperin :: SSRN


Injury Inequality

May 14, 2018

Social and legal understandings of injury play a key role in structuring society. They shape our sense of moral obligations to each other, help us assign blameworthiness, and govern how our collective resources – economic, psychological, and political – are to be distributed. In particular, judgments about injury determine allocations of risk and responsibility in society. Accordingly, distorted assessments of the quality, nature, and significance of injury can have serious consequences. In social and legal systems characterized by “injury inequality,” injuries affecting the powerful are exaggerated, while those affecting the vulnerable are downplayed. This is a serious cause for concern for several interconnected reasons. First, overinflated claims of injury do violence to the concept of injury itself, warping society’s collective understanding of harm. Second, injury inequality preserves the lion’s share of resources for addressing the injuries of the privileged, leaving little for those already less equipped to cope with injury. While elites can expect that their injuries will be accommodated in the structure of law and society itself, the marginalized must make do with self-help.The effect is not limited to economic, legal, or physical resources, but extends to psychological resources: injury inequality discourages empathy and compassion to the harms suffered by the less powerful. This results in legal and social practices that reinforce an unjust and perverse allocation of risks, burdens, and benefits. Such practices send social messages that directly conflict with a commitment to equality across race, gender, and class. At a minimum, out-sized solicitude for elite injuries creates indifference to marginalized injury. In the worst case, such solicitude affirmatively promotes marginalized injury as a sacrifice necessary to preserve the interests of the powerful. This article focuses on three categories of legal and social norms in the United States that demonstrate the harms of injury inequality: justifiable use of deadly force, freedom of speech, and sexual assault.

via Injury Inequality by Mary Anne Franks :: SSRN