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The effect of mental and physical health problems on sickness absence

Mark Bryan (), Andrew M. Bryce () and Jennifer Roberts
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Andrew M. Bryce: University of Sheffield

The European Journal of Health Economics, 2021, vol. 22, issue 9, No 15, 1519-1533

Abstract: Abstract Absenteeism is an important feature of the labour market, imposing significant costs on employers and the economy as a whole. This paper is the first to use a large labour force survey sample to investigate how different physical and mental health conditions affect absence rates among prime age workers in the UK. A pooled time series/cross-section analysis reveals that people with a chronic health condition are more likely to be absent from work, and mental health has a significantly larger effect than physical health. From a longitudinal perspective, we find that a change in mental health has an effect on absenteeism more than three times greater than a change in physical health. These findings imply that the prevention and alleviation of chronic health conditions, particularly common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety that are highly prevalent in prime age workers, will deliver significant benefits to the UK economy due to reduced absenteeism. Further, there is significant heterogeneity between different health conditions, with some having no effect at all on absenteeism having controlled for other factors.

Keywords: Absenteeism; Mental health; Physical health; Labour market; Labour force survey (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C23 I10 J01 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10198-021-01379-w

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