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Can health promotion in the workplace save public money? Evidence from a quasi-experiment in Denmark

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Abstract

This paper estimates the effects of a workplace health promotion program adopted in selected bluecollar trades in Denmark on public expenditurerelated outcomes. A key policy question in many countries is whether such programs represent an effective means of reducing some of the public’s financial burden. To uncover the causal effects, we employ a differenceindifferences strategy that exploits an exogenous variation in the timing of program assignment based on collective agreements. The empirical analysis is based on unique longitudinal administrative register data. We find suggestive evidence that the program has the potential to save public money through a reduction in publicly paid sickleave compensations up to 15% in selected trades, notwithstanding the benefits accruing to companies and workers from reduced sicknessrelated absence. In contrast, mixed evidence is found for a reduction in use of publicly financed health care services, at least in the shortand mediumterm. Considerable heterogeneity in effects is found across different settings. In particular, the effects of program assignment appear to be smaller in small companies. This suggests that these types of programs may not have the same costsaving benefits in all settings. I dette arbejdspapir fremlægges de første resultater af effektanalyserne af sundhedsordningen, PensionDanmark Sundhedsordning. Studiet baserer sig på et unikt longitudinalt registerbaseret datasæt og et differenceindifferences design, hvor det udnyttes, at forskellige overenskomstområder fik sundhedsordningen på forskellige tidspunkter. Analyserne viser, at for en række overenskomstområder der er blevet omfattet af sundhedsordningen, er andelen af personer på sygedagpenge reduceret i et givent år med op til 15 %. Effekterne er dog ikke ens for alle, særligt ses en betydelig variation på tværs af brancher og virksomhedsstørrelse. Derudover ses ikke en entydig effekt på de omfattedes forbrug af sundhedsydelser. Således peger analyserne på, at en målrettet indsats inden for sundhed og forebyggelse ikke kun kommer de ansatte og virksomhederne til gode, men også de offentlige kasser i form af reducerede sygedagpengeudbetalinger.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedersen, Morten Saaby & Arendt, Jacob Nielsen, 2012. "Can health promotion in the workplace save public money? Evidence from a quasi-experiment in Denmark," DaCHE discussion papers 2012:6, University of Southern Denmark, Dache - Danish Centre for Health Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sduhec:2012_006
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    Keywords

    Workplace health promotion; Public expenditures; Difference-in-difference; Intention-to-treat; Quasi-experiment; Sickness-related absence; Health care use;

    JEL classification:

    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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