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Coming to Work While Sick: An Economic Theory of Presenteeism with an Application to German Data

Author

Listed:
  • Hirsch, Boris

    () (Leuphana University Lüneburg)

  • Lechmann, Daniel S. J.

    () (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

  • Schnabel, Claus

    () (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

Abstract

Presenteeism, i.e. attending work while sick, is widespread and associated with significant costs. Still, economic analyses of this phenomenon are rare. In a theoretical model, we show that presenteeism arises due to differences between workers in (health-related) disutility from workplace attendance. As these differences are unobservable by employers, they set wages that incentivise sick workers to attend work. Using a large representative German data set, we test several hypotheses derived from our model. In line with our predictions, we find that bad health status and stressful working conditions are positively related to presenteeism. Better dismissal protection, captured by higher tenure, is associated with slightly fewer presenteeism days, whereas the role of productivity and skills is inconclusive.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirsch, Boris & Lechmann, Daniel S. J. & Schnabel, Claus, 2015. "Coming to Work While Sick: An Economic Theory of Presenteeism with an Application to German Data," IZA Discussion Papers 9015, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9015
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588.
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    9. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2015. "The Pros and Cons of Sick Pay Schemes: A Method to Test for Contagious Presenteeism and Shirking Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 8850, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Stefan Pichler, 2015. "Sickness Absence, Moral Hazard, and the Business Cycle," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(6), pages 692-710, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stefan Pichler & Nicolas R. Ziebarth, 2015. "The Pros and Cons of Sick Pay Schemes: Testing for Contagious Presenteeism and Shirking Behavior," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1509, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Arnold, Daniel & De Pinto, Marco, 2015. "How are work-related characteristics linked to sickness absence and presenteeism? Theory and data," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-077, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    3. Bubonya, Melisa & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Wooden, Mark, 2017. "Mental health and productivity at work: Does what you do matter?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 150-165.
    4. María José Suárez & Cristina Muñiz, 2018. "Unobserved heterogeneity in work absence," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 19(8), pages 1137-1148, November.
    5. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2017. "The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: Testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 14-33.
    6. Pichler, Stefan & Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2019. "Reprint of: The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: Testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 171(C), pages 86-104.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    presenteeism; absenteeism; sick leave; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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