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Worried Sick? Worker Responses To Organizational Turmoil




Sickness absence has risen over the past years in Norway. One explanation put forward is that a tougher labor market represents a health hazard, while a competing hypothesis predicts that loss of job security works as a disciplinary device. In this analysis we aim to trace a causal impact of organizational turmoil or job insecurity on sickness absence, applying a difference-in-difference approach. Utilizing a negative financial shock that hit specific employers and workplaces, we find that sickness absence decreased considerably in the following year. The decrease is substantially larger among male than among female employees, and stronger for days of sickness absence than for its incidence. Acknowledgements: The paper has benefited from comments at the 2011 Norwegian Social Insurance Research Meeting in Lillehammer and the 2012 HEB/HERO workshop in Geilo. We are also grateful for information from Ingvar Linde, Jan G. Myrvang, and chief executives of the eight municipalities impacted by the financial shock. Remaining errors are the authors’ sole responsibility. Financial support from the Norwegian Research Council (Grant 187912) is gratefully acknowledged.

Suggested Citation

  • Bratberg, Espen & Monstad, Karin, 2012. "Worried Sick? Worker Responses To Organizational Turmoil," Working Papers in Economics 08/12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2012_008

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    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
    2. 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.
    3. Badi H. Baltagi & Espen Bratberg & Tor Helge Holmås, 2005. "A panel data study of physicians' labor supply: the case of Norway," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(10), pages 1035-1045.
    4. Barmby, T A & Orme, C D & Treble, John G, 1991. "Worker Absenteeism: An Analysis Using Microdata," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 214-229, March.
    5. Lindbeck, Assar & Palme, Mårten & Persson, Mats, 2006. "Job Security and Work Absence: Evidence form a Natural Experiment," Seminar Papers 743, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    6. Arai, Mahmood & Thoursie, Peter Skogman, 2005. "Incentives and selection in cyclical absenteeism," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 269-280, April.
    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. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    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. Dunn, L F & Youngblood, Stuart A, 1986. "Absenteeism as a Mechanism for Approaching an Optimal Labor Market Equilibrium: An Empirical Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(4), pages 668-674, November.
    11. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1998:88:7:1030-1036_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Bradley, Steve & Green, Colin & Leeves, Gareth, 2007. "Worker absence and shirking: Evidence from matched teacher-school data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 319-334, June.
    13. Allen, Steven G, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Work Attendance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 77-87, February.
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    More about this item


    Worker absenteeism; sickness absence; organizational schange; job security; difference-in-differences;

    JEL classification:

    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • 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
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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