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Gender Differences in Preferences for Health-Related Absences from Work

  • Avdic, Daniel



  • Johansson, Per



Women are on average more absent from work for health reasons than men. At the same time, they live longer. This conflicting pattern suggests that part of the gender difference in health-related absenteeism arises from differences between the genders unrelated to actual health. An overlooked explanation could be that men and women's preferences for absenteeism differ, for example because of gender differences in risk preferences. These differences may originate from the utility-maximizing of households in which women's traditional dual roles influence household decisions to invest primarily in women's health. Using detailed administrative data on sick leave, hospital visits and objective health measures we first investigate the existence of gender-specific preferences for absenteeism and subsequently test for the household investment hypothesis. We find evidence for the existence of gender differences in preferences for absence from work, and that a non-trivial part of these preference differences can be attributed to household investments in women's health.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7480.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7480
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  1. Mastekaasa, Arne, 2000. "Parenthood, gender and sickness absence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(12), pages 1827-1842, June.
  2. Stronegger, Willibald-Julius & Freidl, Wolfgang & Rásky, Éva, 1997. "Health behaviour and risk behaviour: Socioeconomic differences in an Austrian rural county," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 423-426, February.
  3. Selin, Håkan, 2009. "The Rise in Female Employment and the Role of Tax Incentive. An Empirical Analysis of the Swedish Individual Tax Reform of 1971," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2009:3, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Uitenbroek, Daan G. & Kerekovska, Albena & Festchieva, Nevijana, 1996. "Health lifestyle behaviour and socio-demographic characteristics. A study of Varna, Glasgow and Edinburgh," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 367-377, August.
  5. Engström, Per & Johansson, Per, 2009. "The medical doctors as gatekeepers in the sickness insurance?," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2010:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  6. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2008. "Sex and Risk: Experimental Evidence," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-09, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  7. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  8. Sindelar, Jody L, 1982. "Differential Use of Medical Care by Sex," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 1003-19, October.
  9. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  10. Broström, Göran & Palme, Mårten & Johansson, Per, 2002. "Economic incentives and gender differences in work absence behavior," Working Paper Series 2002:14, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  11. Evans, Olga & Steptoe, Andrew, 2002. "The contribution of gender-role orientation, work factors and home stressors to psychological well-being and sickness absence in male- and female-dominated occupational groups," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 481-492, February.
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