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Mandatory Sick Pay Provision: A Labor Market Experiment

  • Bauernschuster, Stefan
  • Duersch, Peter
  • Oechssler, Jörg
  • Vadovic, Radovan

Sick-pay is a common provision in labor contracts. It insures workers against a sudden loss of income due to unexpected absences and helps them smooth consumption. Therefore, many governments find sick-pay socially desirable and choose to mandate its provision. But sick-pay is not without its problems. Not only it suffers from moral hazard but more importantly it is subject to a potentially serious adverse selection problem (higher sick-pay attracts sicker workers). In this paper we report results of an experiment which inquires to the extend and the severity of the adverse selection when sick-pay is voluntary versus when it is mandatory. Theoretically, mandating sick-pay may be effective in diminishing adverse selection. However, our data provide clean evidence that counteracting effects are more salient. Mandatory sick pay exacerbates moral hazard problems by changing fairness perceptions and, as a consequence, increases sick pay provision far above the mandatory levels.

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Paper provided by University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0498.

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Date of creation: 30 Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0498
Note: This paper is part of http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/view/schriftenreihen/sr-3.html
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  1. Jody Heymann & Hye Jin Rho & John Schmitt & Alison Earle, 2009. "Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day Policies in 22 Countries," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2009-19, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
  2. Peter Dürsch & Jörg Oechssler & Radovan Vadovic, 2008. "Sick Pay Provision in Experimental Labor Markets," Working Papers 0476, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2008.
  3. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  4. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  5. Barmby, Tim A. & Ercolani, Marco G. & Treble, John G., 2000. "Sickness Absence: An International Comparison," IRISS Working Paper Series 2000-03, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "Fairness and Contract Design," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 67, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
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  8. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," Seminar Papers 697, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  9. Charness, Gary & Frechette, Guillaume R & Kagel, John H, 2002. "How Robust is Laboratory Gift Exchange?," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8qq4k3ph, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  10. Engelmann, Dirk & Kübler, Dorothea, 2007. "Do Legal Standards Affect Ethical Concerns of Consumers?," IZA Discussion Papers 3266, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  12. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  13. Sandra Maximiano & Randolph Sloof & Joep Sonnemans, 2007. "Gift Exchange in a Multi-Worker Firm," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 1025-1050, 07.
  14. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  15. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  16. Owens, Mark F. & Kagel, John H., 2010. "Minimum wage restrictions and employee effort in incomplete labor markets: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 317-326, March.
  17. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
  18. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Simon Gächter, 1997. "Reciprocity as a contract enforcement device: experimental evidence," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5911, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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