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The Impact of Working Conditions on Sickness Absence : A Theoretical Model and an Empirical Application to Work Schedules


  • Cédric AFSA


  • Pauline GIVORD



This paper explores how poor working conditions impact sickness absence through their effecton health. Our contribution is two-fold. First, we develop a static theoretical model based on theconcept of health capital, wherein poor working conditions are partially compensated by higherwages. According to our model, the effect of working conditions on sickness absence isambiguous. Second, we apply our model to the case of working time arrangements and test theeffect of working irregular schedules or shift work on sickness absence, using data from theFrench Labor Force Survey on a specific population (male manual workers in the privatesector). As observed and unobserved heterogeneity may lead to severe bias, we use propensityscore matching methods. Our estimates show that working irregular schedules has a significantimpact on sickness absence. The results are more mitigated for shift work. In any case, theextent crucially depends on age.

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  • Cédric AFSA & Pauline GIVORD, 2009. "The Impact of Working Conditions on Sickness Absence : A Theoretical Model and an Empirical Application to Work Schedules," Working Papers 2009-06, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2009-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
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    4. Arai, Mahmood & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2005. "Incentives and selection in cyclical absenteeism," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 269-280, April.
    5. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
    6. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 2002. "Propensity Score-Matching Methods For Nonexperimental Causal Studies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 151-161, February.
    7. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    8. Michel Grignon & Thomas Renaud, 2007. "Sickness and injury leave in France: moral hazard or strain?," Working Papers DT4, IRDES institut for research and information in health economics, revised Feb 2007.
    9. Per Johansson & Mårten Palme, 2002. "Assessing the Effect of Public Policy on Worker Absenteeism," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 381-409.
    10. Sickles, Robin C & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "An Analysis of the Health and Retirement Status of the Elderly," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(6), pages 1339-1356, November.
    11. Ose, Solveig Osborg, 2005. "Working conditions, compensation and absenteeism," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 161-188, January.
    12. Lanfranchi, Joseph & Ohlsson, Henry & Skalli, Ali, 2002. "Compensating wage differentials and shift work preferences," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 393-398, February.
    13. Brown, Sarah & Sessions, John G, 1996. " The Economics of Absence: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 23-53, March.
    14. Rosen, Sherwin, 1974. "Hedonic Prices and Implicit Markets: Product Differentiation in Pure Competition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 34-55, Jan.-Feb..
    15. Barmby, Tim & Sessions, John G & Treble, John G, 1994. " Absenteeism, Efficiency Wages and Shirking," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 96(4), pages 561-566.
    16. Denis Bolduc & Bernard Fortin & France Labrecque & DPaul Lanoie, 2002. "Workers' Compensation, Moral Hazard and the Composition of Workplace Injuries," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 623-652.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lorenz, Olga & Goerke, Laszlo, 2015. "Commuting and Sickness Absence," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113173, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Guertzgen, Nicole & Hank, Karsten, 2014. "Maternity leave and mothers' long-term sickness absence: Evidence from Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-109, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    3. Daniel Arnold & Tobias Brändle & Laszlo Goerke, 2014. "Sickness Absence and Works Councils - Evidence from German Individual and Linked Employer-Employee Data," IAW Discussion Papers 107, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • 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
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions


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