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Sick of Your Colleagues' Absence?

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  • Hesselius, Patrik

    ()
    (IFAU)

  • Johansson, Per

    ()
    (IFAU)

  • Nilsson, Peter

    ()
    (IIES, Stockholm University)

Abstract

We utilize a large-scale randomized social experiment to identify how coworkers affect each other's effort as measured by work absence. The experiment altered the work absence incentives for half of all employees living in Göteborg, Sweden. Using administrative data we are able to recover the treatment status of all workers in more than 3,000 workplaces. We first document that employees in workplaces with a high proportion treated coworkers increase their own absence level significantly. We then examine the heterogeneity of the treatment effect in order to explore what mechanisms are underlying the peer effect. While a strong effect of having a high proportion of treated coworkers is found for the nontreated workers, no significant effects are found for the treated workers. These results suggest that pure altruistic social preferences can be ruled out as the main motivator for the behaviour of a nonnegligible proportion of the employees in our sample.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3960.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of European Economic Association, 2009, 7 (2–3), 1–12
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3960

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Related research

Keywords: fairness; work absence; employer employee data; social interactions; reciprocal preferences;

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References

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  1. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
  2. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Larsson, Laura, 2005. "Monitoring sickness insurance claimants: evidence from a social experiment," Working Paper Series, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2005:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  3. Kato, Takao & Shu, Pian, 2008. "Performance Spillovers and Social Network in the Workplace: Evidence from Rural and Urban Weavers in a Chinese Textile Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 3340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  5. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers, University of California at Berkeley 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," Seminar Papers, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies 697, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  7. Andrea Ichino & Giovanni Maggi, 1999. "Work Environment and Individual Background: Explaining Regional Shirking Differentials in a Large Italian Firm," NBER Working Papers 7415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," CESifo Working Paper Series 336, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Jonathan Guryan & Kory Kroft & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2009. "Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 34-68, October.
  10. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-17, August.
  11. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 1996. "Do economic incentives affect work absence? Empirical evidence using Swedish micro data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 195-218, February.
  12. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
  13. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1994. "Human Relations in the Workplace," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 684-717, August.
  14. Johansson, Per & Palme, MÃ¥rten, 1998. "Assessing the effect of a compulsory sickness insurance on worker absenteeism," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 287, Stockholm School of Economics.
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