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Absenteeism, Unemployment and Employment Protection Legislation: Evidence from Italy

Efficiency wages theories argue that the threat of firing, coupled with a high unemployment rate, is a mechanism that discourages employee shirking in asymmetric information contexts. Our empirical analysis aims to verify the role of unemployment as a worker discipline device, considering the different degree of job security offered by the Italian Employment Protection Legislation to workers employed in small and large firms. We use a panel of administrative data (WHIP) and consider sickness absences as an empirical proxy for employee shirking. Controlling for a number of individual and firm characteristics, we investigate the relationship between worker's absences and local unemployment rate (at the provincial level). We find a strong negative impact of unemployment on absenteeism rate, which is considerable larger in small firms due to a significantly lower protection from dismissals in these firms. We also find that workers who are absent more frequently face higher risks of dismissal. As an indirect test of the role of unemployment as worker's discipline device we show that public sector employees, almost impossible to fire, do not react to the local unemployment.

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Paper provided by Tor Vergata University, CEIS in its series CEIS Research Paper with number 257.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 07 Jan 2013
Date of revision: 07 Jan 2013
Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:257
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  1. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
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  9. Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2008. "Worker Absenteeism and Incentives: Evidence from Italy," MPRA Paper 16858, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  12. Assar Lindbeck & Marten Palme & Mats Persson, 2006. "Job Security and Work Absence: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1687, CESifo Group Munich.
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  15. Barmby, Tim A. & Ercolani, Marco G. & Treble, John G., 2000. "Sickness Absence: An International Comparison," IRISS Working Paper Series 2000-03, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  16. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
  17. Riphahn, Regina T., 2004. "Employment protection and effort among German employees," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 353-357, December.
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  19. Askildsen, Jan Erik & Bratberg, Espen & Nilsen, Øivind Anti, 2002. "Unemployment, labour force composition and sickness absence. A panel data study," Working Papers in Economics 05/02, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  20. Campbell, Carl III, 1994. "The determinants of dismissals tests of the shirking model with individual data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 89-95, September.
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  22. Faini, Riccardo & Galli, Giampaolo & Gennari, Pietro & Rossi, Fulvio, 1997. "An empirical puzzle: Falling migration and growing unemployment differentials among Italian regions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 571-579, April.
  23. Cappelli, Peter & Chauvin, Keith, 1991. "An Interplant Test of the Efficiency Wage Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 769-87, August.
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