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Long-Term Absenteeism Due To Sickness: The Swedish Experience, 1986-1991


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  • Andrén, Daniela

    (Department of Economics, School of Economics and Commercial Law, Göteborg University)


Long-term absenteeism due to sickness has been increasing in the past two decades. This has raised many questions about causes, financing, and policy measures to prevent further increases. Answering these questions is even more important in a society with an aging population, which is expected to record even more cases. With data from the Swedish National Insurance Board, proportional hazards models for multiple spells are used in this study to account for shared unobserved group-level characteristics (or frailty) associated with long-term sickness. When the spells were grouped by individual,diagnosis or region, there were significant positive random effects. There was "more" heterogeneity among diagnosis-groups and individual-groups than among regions as groups. Both individual and labor market characteristics had significant effects on the length of absence, which suggests policies aimed to prevent and slow down the increasing trend of long-term sickness of those in older age-groups, but also special policies orientated to prevent deterioration of health status of younger employees.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 47.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: 23 May 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0047

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Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
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Related research

Keywords: long-term sickness; absenteeism; multiple spells; unobserved heterogeneity;

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  1. Johnson, William G & Ondrich, Jan, 1990. "The Duration of Post-injury Absences from Work," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 578-86, November.
  2. Christina Beatty & Stephen Fothergill, 1996. "Labour Market Adjustment in Areas of Chronic Industrial Decline: The Case of the UK Coalfields," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(7), pages 627-640.
  3. Fenn, Paul T, 1981. "Sickness Duration, Residual Disability, and Income Replacement: An Empirical Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(361), pages 158-73, March.
  4. Mohammed Chaudhury & Ignace Ng, 1992. "Absenteeism Predictors: Least Squares, Rank Regression, and Model Selection Results," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 25(3), pages 615-35, August.
  5. Chelius, James R., 1981. "Understanding absenteeism: The potential contribution of economic theory," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 409-418, December.
  6. Dunn, L F & Youngblood, Stuart A, 1986. "Absenteeism as a Mechanism for Approaching an Optimal Labor Market Equilibrium: An Empirical Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 668-74, November.
  7. Paringer, Lynn, 1983. "Women and Absenteeism: Health or Economics?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 123-27, May.
  8. David Armstrong, 1999. "Hidden Male Unemployment in Northern Ireland," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(6), pages 499-511.
  9. Brown, Sarah & Sessions, John G, 1996. " The Economics of Absence: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 23-53, March.
  10. Disney, Richard & Webb, Steven, 1991. "Why Are There So Many Long Term Sick in Britain?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 252-62, March.
  11. Donna B. Gilleskie, 1998. "A Dynamic Stochastic Model of Medical Care Use and Work Absence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 1-46, January.
  12. Butler, Richard J & Worrall, John D, 1985. "Work Injury Compensation and the Duration of Nonwork Spells," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 95(379), pages 714-24, September.
  13. Knutsson, Anders & Goine, Hans, 1998. "Occupation and unemployment rates as predictors of long term sickness absence in two Swedish counties," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 25-31, July.
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