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Coming to work while sick: an economic theory of presenteeism with an application to German data

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  • Boris HirschBy
  • Daniel S. J. Lechmann
  • Claus Schnabel

Abstract

Presenteeism, i.e. attending work while sick, is widespread and associated with significant costs. Still, economic analyses of this phenomenon are rare. In a theoretical model, we show that presenteeism arises due to differences between workers in the disutility from workplace attendance. As these differences are unobservable by employers, they set wages that incentivize sick workers to attend work. Using a large representative German data set, we test several hypotheses derived from our model. In line with our predictions, we find that stressful working conditions and bad health status are positively related to presenteeism. Better dismissal protection, captured by higher tenure, is associated with slightly fewer presenteeism days, whereas the role of productivity and skills is inconclusive.

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  • Boris HirschBy & Daniel S. J. Lechmann & Claus Schnabel, 2017. "Coming to work while sick: an economic theory of presenteeism with an application to German data," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 1010-1031.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:69:y:2017:i:4:p:1010-1031.
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    Cited by:

    1. María José Suárez & Cristina Muñiz, 2018. "Unobserved heterogeneity in work absence," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 19(8), pages 1137-1148, November.
    2. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: Testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 14-33.
    3. Bubonya, Melisa & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Wooden, Mark, 2017. "Mental health and productivity at work: Does what you do matter?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 150-165.
    4. Stefan Pichler & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2015. "The Pros and Cons of Sick Pay Schemes: Testing for Contagious Presenteeism and Shirking Behavior," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1509, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Vincent Vandenberghe, 2020. "The Rather Limited Role Of Mental Ill Health In Driving Work Beyond 50," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020020, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    6. Gürtzgen, Nicole & Hiesinger, Karolin, 2020. "Dismissal Protection and Long-term Sickness Absence - First Evidence from Germany," IAB Discussion Paper 202022, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    7. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2019. "Reprint of: The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: Testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 86-104.
    8. Daniel Arnold & Marco de Pinto, 2015. "How are Work-related Characteristics Linked to Sickness Absence and Presenteeism? - Theory and Data -," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201511, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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