The individual cost of sick leave
This paper aims to estimate the causal effect of sick leave on subsequent earnings and employment, using an administrative dataset for Norway. To obtain experiment-like variation in sick leave among otherwise similar workers, the leniency of these workers’ physicians—certifying sickness absences—is used as an instrumental variable for sick leave. A 1 percentage point increase in a worker’s sick leave rate is found to reduce his earnings by 1.2% 2 years later. Around half of the reduction in earnings can be explained by a reduction of 0.5 percentage points in the probability of being employed.