IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Monitoring sickness insurance claimants: evidence from a social experiment


  • Hesselius, Patrik

    () (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

  • Johansson, Per

    () (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

  • Larsson, Laura

    (SNS - Studieförbundet Näringsliv och Samhälle)


The paper exploits a unique social experiment carried out in 1988 in Sweden to identify the effect of monitoring on sickness absence. The treatment consists of postponing the first formal point of monitoring during a sickness absence spell, a requirement for a doctor’s certificate, from day eight to day fifteen. The experiment was conducted in two geographical areas, and the treatment group was randomized by birth date. The results show strong effects on sickness absence duration from extending the waiting period in both areas. On average, the durations increased by 6.6 percent. No effect on incidence of sickness absence is found. A heterogeneity analysis reveals that monitoring affects men more than women.

Suggested Citation

  • Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Larsson, Laura, 2005. "Monitoring sickness insurance claimants: evidence from a social experiment," Working Paper Series 2005:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2005_015

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Holmlund, Bertil, 1998. " Unemployment Insurance in Theory and Practice," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 100(1), pages 113-141, March.
    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. Orley Ashenfelter & David Ashmore & Olivier Deschenes, 1998. "Do Unemployment Insurance Recipients Actively Seek Work? Randomized Trials in Four U.S. States," Working Papers 791, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. Pierre André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory: A Survey of Some Recent Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 738, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Krueger, Alan B. & Meyer, Bruce D., 2002. "Labor supply effects of social insurance," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 33, pages 2327-2392 Elsevier.
    6. Gerard van den Berg & Bas van der Klaauw, 2000. "Counseling and Monitoring of Unemployed Workers: Theory and Evidence from a Social Experiment," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0972, Econometric Society.
    7. Dolton, Peter & O'Neill, Donal, 1996. "Unemployment Duration and the Restart Effect: Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 387-400, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Andersen, Signe Hald, 2010. "The cost of sickness: On the effect of the duration of sick leave on post-sick leave earnings," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1581-1589, May.
    2. 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.
    3. Engström, Per & Hesselius, Patrik, 2007. "The information method - theory and application," Working Paper Series 2007:17, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    4. Lindbeck, Assar & Palme, Mårten & Persson, Mats, 2007. "Social Interaction and Sickness Absence," Working Paper Series 725, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    5. Barbara Hofmann, 2014. "Sick of being “Activated?”," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 1103-1127, November.
    6. Assar Lindbeck, 2006. "Sustainable social spending," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 13(4), pages 303-324, August.
    7. Per Engström & Pathric Hägglund & Per Johansson, 2017. "Early Interventions and Disability Insurance: Experience from a Field Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(600), pages 363-392, March.
    8. Torsvik, Gaute & Vaage, Kjell, 2014. "Gatekeeping versus monitoring: Evidence from a case with extended self-reporting of sickness absence," Working Papers in Economics 08/14, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    9. Carlsen, Benedicte, 2012. "From absence to absenteeism? A qualitative cross case study of teachers’ views on sickness absence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 129-136.
    10. Hägglund, Pathric, 2006. "Are there pre-programme effects of Swedish active labour market policies? Evidence from three randomised experiments," Working Paper Series 2006:2, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    11. Hartman, Laura & Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per, 2013. "Effects of eligibility screening in the sickness insurance: Evidence from a field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 48-56.
    12. Hesselius, Patrik & Johansson, Per & Vikström, Johan, 2008. "Monitoring and norms in sickness insurance: empirical evidence from a natural experiment," Working Paper Series 2008:8, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    13. Forslund, Anders, 2009. "Labour supply incentives, income support systems and taxes in Sweden," Working Paper Series 2009:30, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    14. repec:spr:empeco:v:52:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1117-1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Absenteeism; sickness insurance; monitoring; social experiment;

    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2005_015. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Monica Fällgren). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.