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Being on Sick Leave: Possible Explanations for Differences of Sick-leave Days Across Countries

  • Rigmar Osterkamp
  • Oliver Röhn

Sick-leave days differ widely among industrialised countries. For the US it is 5, for Sweden 20 and for Poland 26 days per year and per employee. The possible causes for these differences have apparently not been systematically analysed. Two groups of contributing factors are considered: (i) objective causes, like the general health situation, employment of women and older persons, and (ii) behavioural reactions (a) to macroeconomic conditions, like unemployment or the possibility to work outside the official labour market, and (b) to the design of institutions, like the generosity of granting sick leave or the strictness of employment protection. On the basis of a panel for 20 countries and for the years 1996--2002, it is econometrically shown that the main explanatory factors are the generosity of granting sick leave, the strictness of employment protection and the employment of older persons. The unemployment rate and the employment of women--contrary to the result of some single-country studies--do not contribute to the explanation of sick-leave differences between countries. (JEL classification: I12, I18) Copyright 2007, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by CESifo in its journal CESifo Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 53 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 97-114

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Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:53:y:2007:i:1:p:97-114
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