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Profiting from presenteeism? Effects of an enforced activation policy on firm profits


  • Godøy, Anna


Activation requirements and graded benefits are strategies for reducing social insurance costs in comprehensive welfare states. In Norway, a policy of issuing graded rather than full time sickness absence certificates, is viewed as a strategy not just to reduce direct costs of sick pay but also to facilitate returns to work and reduce inflows to permanent disability. This paper analyzes effects of graded sick leave on firm profits, on average and across different firm groups. A series of panel data models are formulated to estimate the effects of grading on firm profits. In these models, grading is found to mitigate the negative effects of sickness absence on firm profit. A one percentage point increase in full time sickness absence leads to a 1.7% reduction in return on assets relative to the sample mean; this negative effect is reduced by 70% when absence is graded. Effects are robust to inclusion of firm fixed effects as well as time-varying proxies for labor demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Godøy, Anna, 2016. "Profiting from presenteeism? Effects of an enforced activation policy on firm profits," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 122-128.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:43:y:2016:i:c:p:122-128
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2016.06.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harald Dale-Olsen & Pål Schøne & Mette Verner, 2013. "Diversity among Norwegian Boards of Directors: Does a Quota for Women Improve Firm Performance?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 110-135, October.
    2. Sean Nicholson & Mark V. Pauly & Daniel Polsky & Claire Sharda & Helena Szrek & Marc L. Berger, 2006. "Measuring the effects of work loss on productivity with team production," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(2), pages 111-123.
    3. Høgelund, Jan & Holm, Anders & McIntosh, James, 2010. "Does graded return-to-work improve sick-listed workers' chance of returning to regular working hours?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 158-169, January.
    4. Elisabeth Fevang & Simen Markussen & Knut Røed, 2014. "The Sick Pay Trap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 305-336.
    5. Berglann, Helge & Moen, Espen R. & Røed, Knut & Skogstrøm, Jens Fredrik, 2011. "Entrepreneurship: Origins and returns," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 180-193, April.
    6. Mark V. Pauly & Sean Nicholson & Judy Xu & Dan Polsky & Patricia M. Danzon & James F. Murray & Marc L. Berger, 2002. "A general model of the impact of absenteeism on employers and employees," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(3), pages 221-231.
    7. Markussen, Simen & Mykletun, Arnstein & Røed, Knut, 2012. "The case for presenteeism — Evidence from Norway's sickness insurance program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(11), pages 959-972.
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    More about this item


    Absenteeism; Productivity; Activation; Work loss;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy


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