The anatomy of absenteeism

J Health Econ. 2011 Mar;30(2):277-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2010.12.003. Epub 2010 Dec 23.


Based on comprehensive administrative register data from Norway, we examine the determinants of sickness absence behavior; in terms of employee characteristics, workplace characteristics, panel doctor characteristics, and economic conditions. The analysis is based on a novel concept of a worker's steady state sickness absence propensity, computed from a multivariate hazard rate model designed to predict the incidence and duration of sickness absence for all workers. Key conclusions are that (i) most of the cross-sectional variation in absenteeism is caused by genuine employee heterogeneity; (ii) the identity of a person's panel doctor has a significant impact on absence propensity; (iii) sickness absence insurance is frequently certified for reasons other than sickness; and (iv) the recovery rate rises enormously just prior to the exhaustion of sickness insurance benefits.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Empirical Research
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance Benefits
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors