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Absenteeism, Unemployment and Employment Protection Legislation: Evidence from Italy

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Author Info

  • Scoppa, Vincenzo

    ()
    (University of Calabria)

  • Vuri, Daniela

    ()
    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

Abstract

Efficiency wages theories argue that the threat of firing, coupled with a high unemployment rate, is a mechanism that discourages employee shirking in asymmetric information contexts. Our empirical analysis aims to verify the role of unemployment as a worker discipline device, considering the different degree of job security offered by the Italian Employment Protection Legislation to workers employed in small and large firms. We use a panel of administrative data (WHIP) and consider sickness absences as an empirical proxy for employee shirking. Controlling for a number of individual and firm characteristics, we investigate the relationship between worker's absences and local unemployment rate (at the provincial level). We find a strong negative impact of unemployment on absenteeism rate, which is considerable larger in small firms due to a significantly lower protection from dismissals in these firms. We also find that workers who are absent more frequently face higher risks of dismissal. As an indirect test of the role of unemployment as worker's discipline device we show that public sector employees, almost impossible to fire, do not react to the local unemployment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7091.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7091

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Keywords: employment protection legislation; absenteeism; shirking; unemployment;

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References

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  1. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
  2. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  3. Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2008. "Worker Absenteeism and Incentives: Evidence from Italy," MPRA Paper 16858, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Zvi Griliches & Jerry A. Hausman, 1984. "Errors in Variables in Panel Data," NBER Technical Working Papers 0037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Per Johansson & Mårten Palme, 2002. "Assessing the Effect of Public Policy on Worker Absenteeism," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 381-409.
  6. Tim A. Barmby & Marco G. Ercolani & John G. Treble, 2002. "Sickness Absence: An International Comparison," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F315-F331, June.
  7. Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2010. "Shirking and employment protection legislation: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 276-280, May.
  8. Lindbeck, Assar & Palme, Mårten & Persson, Mats, 2006. "Job Security and Work Absence: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Paper Series 660, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  9. Olsson, Martin, 2009. "Employment protection and sickness absence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 208-214, April.
  10. Askildsen, Jan Erik & Bratberg, Espen & Nilsen, Øivind Anti, 2002. "Unemployment, Labour Force Composition and Sickness Absence: A Panel Data Study," IZA Discussion Papers 466, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Arai, Mahmood & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2005. "Incentives and selection in cyclical absenteeism," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 269-280, April.
  12. Cristini, Annalisa & Origo, Federica & Pinoli, Sara, 2012. "The Healthy Fright of Losing a Good One for a Bad One," IZA Discussion Papers 6348, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  14. Campbell, Carl III, 1994. "The determinants of dismissals tests of the shirking model with individual data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 89-95, September.
  15. Hesselius, Patrik, 2007. "Does sickness absence increase the risk of unemployment?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 288-310, April.
  16. Fahr, René & Frick, Bernd, 2007. "On the Inverse Relationship between Unemployment and Absenteeism: Evidence from Natural Experiments and Worker Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 3171, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2009. "Long-Term Absenteeism and Moral Hazard: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 172, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

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