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Do time limits in the sickness insurance system increase return to work?


  • Pathric Hägglund



This article analyzes the effect of stricter enforcement of the eligibility criteria in the Swedish sickness insurance (SI) system. In 2008, time-restricted assessments of the individual’s working capacity on the 91st and 181st sick day was introduced. Taking advantage of the quasi-experimental feature of the intervention, I find a large and significant increased exit rate around the 181-day assessment. The impact is the result of longer spells outside SI-benefits, indicating that the stricter rules create disincentives to report sick. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Pathric Hägglund, 2013. "Do time limits in the sickness insurance system increase return to work?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 567-582, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:empeco:v:45:y:2013:i:1:p:567-582 DOI: 10.1007/s00181-012-0618-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hesselius, Patrik & Persson, Malin, 2007. "Incentive and spill-over effects of supplementary sickness compensation," Working Paper Series 2007:16, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-782, July.
    3. Terry R. Johnson & Daniel H. Klepinger, 1994. "Experimental Evidence on Unemployment Insurance Work-Search Policies," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 665-717.
    4. 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.
    5. Carling, Kenneth & Edin, Per-Anders & Harkman, Anders & Holmlund, Bertil, 1996. "Unemployment duration, unemployment benefits, and labor market programs in Sweden," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(3), pages 313-334, March.
    6. Johansson, Per & Palme, Mårten, 1998. "Assessing the effect of a compulsory sickness insurance on worker absenteeism," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 287, Stockholm School of Economics.
    7. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
    8. Barr, Nicholas, 2004. "Economics of the Welfare State," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 4, number 9780199264971, June.
    9. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Nilsson, Peter, 2009. "Sick of your colleagues' absence?," Working Paper Series 2009:2, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    10. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith & Mark C. Berger & Brett J. Noel, 2003. "Is the Threat of Reemployment Services More Effective Than the Services Themselves? Evidence from Random Assignment in the UI System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1313-1327, September.
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    More about this item


    Public sickness insurance; Policy evaluation; Natural experiment; H55; I18; J22; J28;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy


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