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Firms' Moral Hazard in Sickness Absences

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Author Info

  • Böheim, René

    ()
    (University of Linz)

  • Leoni, Thomas

    ()
    (WIFO - Austrian Institute of Economic Research)

Abstract

Sick workers in many countries receive sick pay during their illness-related absences from the workplace. In several countries, the social security system insures firms against their workers' sickness absences. However, this insurance may create moral hazard problems for firms, leading to the inefficient monitoring of absences or to an underinvestment in their prevention. In the present paper, we investigate firm' moral hazard problems in sickness absences by analyzing a legislative change that took place in Austria in 2000. In September 2000, an insurance fund that refunded firms for the costs of their blue-collar workers' sickness absences was abolished (firms did not receive a similar refund for their white-collar workers' sickness absences). Before that time, small firms were fully refunded for the wage costs of blue-collar workers' sickness absences. Large firms, by contrast, were refunded only 70% of the wages paid to sick blue-collar workers. Using a difference-in-differences-in-differences approach, we estimate the causal impact of refunding firms for their workers' sickness absences. Our results indicate that the incidences of blue-collar workers' sicknesses dropped by approximately 8% and sickness absences were almost 11% shorter following the removal of the refund. Several robustness checks confirm these results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6005.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6005

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Keywords: absenteeism; moral hazard; sickness insurance;

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References

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  1. Lusine Lusinyan & Leo Bonato, 2007. "Work Absence in Europe," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(3), pages 475-538, July.
  2. David Rae, 2005. "How to Reduce Sickness Absences in Sweden: Lessons from International Experience," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 442, OECD Publishing.
  3. Barmby, Tim & Sessions, John G & Treble, John G, 1994. " Absenteeism, Efficiency Wages and Shirking," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(4), pages 561-66.
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  6. Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2009. "Long-Term Absenteeism and Moral Hazard: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 888, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Barmby, Tim A. & Ercolani, Marco G. & Treble, John G., 2000. "Sickness Absence: An International Comparison," IRISS Working Paper Series 2000-03, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  8. Josef Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Oliver Ruf & Simon Büchi, 2009. "Austrian social security database," IEW - Working Papers 410, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    • Josef Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Oliver Ruf & Simon Büchi, 2009. "Austrian Social Security Database," NRN working papers 2009-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
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  10. Barmby, Tim & Stephan, Gesine, 2000. "Worker Absenteeism: Why Firm Size May Matter," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 68(5), pages 568-77, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Ziebarth N & Karlsson M, 2009. "The effects of expanding the generosity of the statutory sickness insurance system," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/35, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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