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A Natural Experiment on Sick Pay Cuts, Sickness Absence, and Labor Costs

This study estimates the reform effects of a reduction in statutory sick pay levels on various outcome dimensions. A federal law reduced the legal obligation of German employers to provide 100 percent continued wages for up to six weeks per sickness episode to 80 percent. This measure increased the ratio of employees having no days of absence by about 7.5 percent. The mean number of absence days per year decreased by about 5 percent. The reform might have reduced total labor costs by about e1.5 billion per year which might have led to the creation of around 50,000 new jobs.

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Paper provided by HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York in its series Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers with number 09/34.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:09/34
Contact details of provider: Postal: HEDG/HERC, Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
Phone: (0)1904 323776
Fax: (0)1904 323759
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  1. Johansson, Per & Palme, Mårten, 2001. "Assessing the effect of public policy on worker absenteeism," Working Paper Series 2002:13, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Nicolas R. Ziebarth & Martin Karlsson, 2009. "The Effects of Expanding the Generosity of the Statutory Sickness Insurance System," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 245, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  4. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  5. Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 5866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Bound, 1989. "The Health and Earnings of Rejected Disability Insurance Applicants," NBER Working Papers 2816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Henrekson, Magnus & Persson, Mats, 2001. "The Effects on Sick Leave of Changes in the Sickness Insurance System," Seminar Papers 697, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  8. Lusine Lusinyan & Leo Bonato, 2007. "Work Absence in Europe," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 54(3), pages 475-538, July.
  9. Askildsen, Jan Erik & Bratberg, Espen & Nilsen, Øivind Anti, 2002. "Unemployment, Labour Force Composition and Sickness Absence: A Panel Data Study," IZA Discussion Papers 466, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Ziebarth, Nicolas R., 2013. "Long-term absenteeism and moral hazard—Evidence from a natural experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 277-292.
  11. Riphahn, Regina T., 2004. "Employment protection and effort among German employees," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 85(3), pages 353-357, December.
  12. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1994. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," NBER Working Papers 4956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Imbens, Guido W. & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2008. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," IZA Discussion Papers 3640, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Georges Dionne & Benoit Dostie, 2007. "New Evidence on the Determinants of Absenteeism Using Linked Employer-Employee Data," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(1), pages 108-120, October.
  15. Per Pettersson-Lidbom & Peter Skogman Thoursie, 2013. "Temporary Disability Insurance and Labor Supply: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(2), pages 485-507, 04.
  16. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  17. Patrick A. Puhani & Katja Sonderhof, 2009. "The Effects of a Sick Pay Reform on Absence and on Health-Related Outcomes," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 248, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  18. Meyer, Bruce D & Viscusi, W Kip & Durbin, David L, 1995. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 322-40, June.
  19. Susan Chen & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2006. "The Work Disincentive Effects of the Disability Insurance Program in the 1990s," Working Papers 06-05, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  20. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  21. Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2003. "Cluster-Sample Methods in Applied Econometrics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 133-138, May.
  22. Puhani, Patrick A., 2012. "The treatment effect, the cross difference, and the interaction term in nonlinear “difference-in-differences” models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 85-87.
  23. William P. Curington, 1994. "Compensation for Permanent Impairment and the Duration of Work Absence: Evidence from Four Natural Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 888-910.
  24. Michael Feil & Sabine Klinger & Gerd Zika, 2008. "Der Beschäftigungseffekt geringerer Sozialabgaben in Deutschland - Wie beeinflusst die Wahl des Simulationsmodells das Ergebnis?," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 128(3), pages 431-460.
  25. 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.
  26. Fenn, Paul T, 1981. "Sickness Duration, Residual Disability, and Income Replacement: An Empirical Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(361), pages 158-73, March.
  27. Ichino, Andrea & Riphahn, Regina T., 2001. "The Effect of Employment Protection on Worker Effort: A Comparison of Absenteeism During and After Probation," IZA Discussion Papers 385, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. Johansson, Per & Palme, Marten, 2005. "Moral hazard and sickness insurance," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1879-1890, September.
  29. Michele Campolieti, 2004. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply: Some Additional Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 863-890, October.
  30. Doherty, N A, 1979. "National Insurance and Absence from Work," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(353), pages 50-65, March.
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