Innovation policies and workplace accidents in Europe: a dynamic assessment on external benefits

Angelo Castaldo (Sapienza University of Rome)
Tetyana Furman (Sapienza University of Rome)
Alessia Marrocco (Sapienza University of Rome)


Workplace safety has been increasingly receiving attention from institutions, labour organizations, researchers and policy makers (Greer, 2018; da Silva, Amaral, 2019; Liu, 2019; Schulte et al., 2019; Tassinari et al., 2020). Despite the decreasing trend in the number of occupational accidents, in Europe cross-country investigation over this phenomenon highlight an heterogeneous dynamic pattern (Boone and van Ours, 2006; Anyfantis et al., 2018; Ivascu and Cioca, 2019; Lafuente and Daza, 2019; Verra et al., 2019).
The frequency of workplace accidents has been extensively studied in the literature for which, traditionally, it is possible to identify four main groups of factors affecting injuries (see Fabiano et al., 2004): i) individual factors related to workers characteristics (age, gender) and experience, ii) job-related factors, organization of work and environmental conditions, iii) technology used, and iv) economic factors, such as general economic conditions, unemployment rate, labour and social insurance legislation, business cycles. Cornelissen et al. (2017) have provided one of the most comprehensive overviews on the determinants of occupational safety, identifying and clustering several possible determinants of occupational injuries in high-risk industries (i.e., construction, petro-chemistry, warehouses, and manufacturing). The resulting seven clusters constitute a suitable framework to identify the possible determinants of workplaces accidents since Cornelissen et al. (2017) considered both theoretical and empirical studies and included determinants which have received so far little attention in previous models (e.g., external factors).
Based on this strand of literature, this paper presents an empirical investigation on the determinants of workplace accidents and focuses on the extent to which public expenditure on R&D&I affects the workplace accidents trend in Europe, while controlling for production-system characteristics (employment sectoral risk, size of firms, temporary contracts), business cycle and socio-economic factors (GDP, level of investments, unemployment, education) and other territorial features (quality of the institutions, crime index).
We use Eurostat data, and our panel is composed of 27 European countries over the period 2005-2019. Implementing different functional forms and estimation methodologies (pooled OLS, panel fixed and random effects models, system-GMM and semiparametric fixed effects model), we find robust evidence that the overall levels of public support schemes for innovation, while controlling for the productive-system characteristics, the business cycle and other territorial variables are effective in explaining the evolution over time of the occupational accident rates.

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