Workers' Compensation: Benefits, Costs and Safety under Alternative Insurance Arrangements

Article excerpt

Workers' Compensation: Benefits, Costs and Safety Under Alternative Insurance Arrangements, by Terry Thomason, Timothy P Schmidle, and John F. Burton Jr., 2001, Kalamazoo, Michigan: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Reviewer: John D. Worrall, Rutgers University

This book succeeds on many fronts and is a must-buy for those working in social insurance, human resources, or public policy. The careful construction of a cross-sectional time series on the costs of workers' compensation alone would be a major contribution and worth the price of the book, facilitating research on the changing structure of workers' compensation programs. However, the book actually uses the series to examine the adequacy, equity, and efficiency of the workers' compensation system. The authors update previous studies, Krueger and Burton (1990) and Schmidle (1994), for example, and they price both the essential recommendations of the National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws and the Model Act of the Council of State Governments. They consider public vs. private provision and the injury prevention role of workers' compensation programs.

Those familiar with the research programs of the three authors, all experienced scholars who have made many contributions to social insurance research, will see the influence each has had on the final product. Although each is interested in theory and econometrics, the authors go to great pains to make the book accessible to the general reader. They explain technical points in good English and clearly spell out the public policy aspects of the research.

After a brief overview (Chapter 1), the authors present an especially well-written Chapter 2 on workers' compensation program developments since the 1960s. This will provide a quick review for those who have followed workers' compensation programs closely and a strong basis for the research to come for those unfamiliar with workers' compensation research. Chapter 3 provides the data foundation for the multivariate statistical research that follows in Chapters 4, 5, 7, and 8 (Chapter 6 sets out the theory and reviews the effect of rate regulation).

The authors provide detailed information on the construction of their cross-sectional time series. They are able to build a consistent series for workers' compensation class codes, which account for approximately 75 percent of premium. …