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Sick of Your Colleagues' Absence?

  • Hesselius, Patrik

    ()

    (IFAU)

  • Johansson, Per

    ()

    (IFAU)

  • Nilsson, Peter

    ()

    (IIES, Stockholm University)

We utilize a large-scale randomized social experiment to identify how coworkers affect each other's effort as measured by work absence. The experiment altered the work absence incentives for half of all employees living in Göteborg, Sweden. Using administrative data we are able to recover the treatment status of all workers in more than 3,000 workplaces. We first document that employees in workplaces with a high proportion treated coworkers increase their own absence level significantly. We then examine the heterogeneity of the treatment effect in order to explore what mechanisms are underlying the peer effect. While a strong effect of having a high proportion of treated coworkers is found for the nontreated workers, no significant effects are found for the treated workers. These results suggest that pure altruistic social preferences can be ruled out as the main motivator for the behaviour of a nonnegligible proportion of the employees in our sample.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3960.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of European Economic Association, 2009, 7 (2–3), 1–12
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3960
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  1. 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.
  2. Magnus Henrekson & Mats Persson, 2004. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 87-114, January.
  3. Jonathan Guryan & Kory Kroft & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2009. "Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 34-68, October.
  4. Rotemberg, Julio J, 1994. "Human Relations in the Workplace," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 684-717, August.
  5. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  6. 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.
  7. Kato, Takao & Shu, Pian, 2008. "Performance Spillovers and Social Network in the Workplace: Evidence from Rural and Urban Weavers in a Chinese Textile Firm," IZA Discussion Papers 3340, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Andrea Ichino & Giovanni Maggi, 2000. "Work Environment And Individual Background: Explaining Regional Shirking Differentials In A Large Italian Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1057-1090, August.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocitys," IEW - Working Papers 040, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
  11. Imran Rasul & Iwan Barankay & Orana Bandiera, 2005. "Social preferences and the response to incentives: Evidence from personnel data," Natural Field Experiments 00212, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. Kandel, Eugene & Lazear, Edward P, 1992. "Peer Pressure and Partnerships," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 801-17, August.
  13. Johansson, Per & Palme, Mårten, 1998. "Assessing the effect of a compulsory sickness insurance on worker absenteeism," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 287, Stockholm School of Economics.
  14. Lazear, Edward P, 1989. "Pay Equality and Industrial Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 561-80, June.
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