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Smoking and absence from work: Australian evidence


  • Bush, Robert
  • Wooden, Mark


This study reports on research into the relationship between absence from work and smoking. A key feature of the study is the data, which come from the National Health Survey (NHS) undertaken in 1989/90 in Australia. Involving responses from more than 54,000 individuals, the NHS provides what is almost certainly the largest and most comprehensive data set available in the world today containing information on both absence and smoking behaviour. Moreover, the data permit controls to be applied for a large number of influences thought to have some bearing on work attendance. Logit models of absence incidence over a two week period are estimated, and smoking is consistently found to have a large and significant impact on absence. This impact, however, is not consistent across the sexes. The probability of a male smoker being absent from work is estimated to be 66% greater than that for a male who has never smoked. For females, the corresponding figure is just 23%. The findings also suggest that it is important to distinguish ex-smokers from other non-smokers, with the incidence of absence among ex-smokers being almost as high as that for current smokers. Finally, no evidence was uncovered to suggest that absence varied with the actual quantity of tobacco smoked, as measured by both the number of cigarettes smoked and estimated daily nicotine and tar intakes.

Suggested Citation

  • Bush, Robert & Wooden, Mark, 1995. "Smoking and absence from work: Australian evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 437-446, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:41:y:1995:i:3:p:437-446

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Halkos, George, 1993. "Economic incentives for optimal sulphur abatement in Europe," MPRA Paper 33705, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Ger Klaassen & David Pearce, 1995. "Introduction," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(2), pages 85-93, March.
    3. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, January.
    4. Tietenberg, T H, 1990. "Economic Instruments for Environmental Regulation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 17-33, Spring.
    5. Halkos, George E., 1993. "Sulphur abatement policy: Implications of cost differentials," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(10), pages 1035-1043, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Weden, Margaret M & Astone, Nan M & Bishai, David, 2006. "Racial, ethnic, and gender differences in smoking cessation associated with employment and joblessness through young adulthood in the US," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 303-316, January.
    2. Lindgren, Karl-Oskar, 2012. "Workplace size and sickness absence transitions," Working Paper Series 2012:26, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    3. Jenny Lye & Joe Hirschberg, 2004. "Alcohol consumption, smoking and wages," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(16), pages 1807-1817.
    4. Nils Braakmann, 2008. "The smoking wage penality in the United Kingdom: Regression and matching evidence from the British Household Survey Panel," Working Paper Series in Economics 96, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    5. Verena Friedrich & Adrian Brügger & Georg Bauer, 2009. "Worksite tobacco prevention in the Canton of Zurich: stages of change, predictors, and outcomes," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 54(6), pages 427-438, December.

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