We study an economy where agents' productivity and labor endowment depend on their health status, and indivisible occupational choices affect individual health distributions. We show that Pareto efficiency requires cross-transfers across occupations. Moreover, workers with relatively less safe jobs must get positive transfers whenever labor supply is not very reactive to wages, a condition in line with the findings of a large empirical literature. In these instances, compensating wage differentials equalizing the utilities of ex-ante identical workers in different jobs undermine ex-ante efficiency. Moreover, competitive equilibria where only assets with deterministic payoffs are traded are not first-best. Finally, we show that simple transfer schemes, implemented through linear subsidies to health insurance, enhance efficiency.
- Pareto efficiency
- compensating wage differentials
- competitive markets
- individual health risks