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Monitoring and norms in sickness insurance: empirical evidence from a natural experiment


  • Hesselius, Patrik

    () (Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

  • Johansson, Per

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

  • Vikström, Johan

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


We test if social work norms are important for work absence due to self-perceived sickness. To this end, we use a randomized social experiment designed to estimate the effect of monitoring on work absence. The treated were exposed to less monitoring of their eligibility to use sickness insurance, which increased their non-monitored work absence. Based on a difference in differences analysis, we find that the not directly treated also increased their absence as a result of the experiment. By using an instrumental variables estimator, we find significant endogenous social interaction effects. A 10 per cent exogenous shock in work absence would lead to an immediate 5.7 per cent decrease in the hazard out of sickness absence: the long-run effect is calculated as a 13.3 per cent decrease in the corresponding hazard.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2008_008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bryan S. Graham, 2008. "Identifying Social Interactions Through Conditional Variance Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 643-660, May.
    2. Brock, William A. & Durlauf, Steven N., 2001. "Interactions-based models," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 54, pages 3297-3380 Elsevier.
    3. 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.
    4. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 235-260.
    5. Hedström, Peter & Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Åberg, Yvonne, 2003. "Social interactions and unemployment," Working Paper Series 2003:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    6. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
    7. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    8. Lindbeck, Assar & Palme, Mårten & Persson, Mats, 2007. "Social Interaction and Sickness Absence," Working Paper Series 725, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    9. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-390, June.
    10. Giorgio Topa, 2001. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 261-295.
    11. George J. Borjas, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-150.
    12. Conley, T.G. & Topa, G., 1999. "Socio-Economic Distance and Spatial Patterns in Unemployment," Working Papers 99-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
    13. Graham, Bryan S. & Hahn, Jinyong, 2005. "Identification and estimation of the linear-in-means model of social interactions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-6, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andersson, Fredrik W. & Bokenblom, Mattias & Brantingson, Staffan & Brännström, Susanne Gullberg & Wall, Johan, 2011. "Sick listing—Partly a family phenomenon?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 496-502.
    2. repec:spr:jopoec:v:30:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0651-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Erixson, Oscar, 2014. "Health Responses to a Wealth Shock: Evidence from a Swedish Tax Reform," Working Paper Series 1011, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

    More about this item


    Work norms; social insurance; social interactions; sickness absence;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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