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The Anatomy of U.S. Sick Leave Schemes: Evidence from Public School Teachers

Christopher Cronin (), Matthew Harris () and Nicolas Ziebarth ()

No 29956, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: This paper studies how U.S. employees use paid sick leave. The most common U.S. sick-leave schemes operate as individualized credit accounts---paid leave is earned over time and unused leave accumulates, producing an employee-specific "leave balance." We construct a unique administrative dataset containing the daily balance information and leave behavior of 982 public school teachers from 2010 to 2018. We have three main findings: First, we provide evidence of judicious sick-leave use---namely, teachers use more sick leave during higher flu activity---but no evidence of inappropriate use for the purposes of leisure. Second, we find that leave use is increasing in the leave balance with an average balance-use elasticity of 0.45. This relationship is strongest at the very bottom of the balance distribution. Third, we find that a higher leave balance reduces the likelihood that a teacher works sick ("presenteeism"), especially during flu season. Taken together, these results suggest that a simple alteration to the current sick-leave scheme could reduce the likelihood of presenteeism, thereby lowering infection risk in schools, with few adverse consequences.

JEL-codes: I12 I13 I18 J22 J28 J32 J38 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022-04
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea, nep-lma and nep-ure
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