Original Paper

Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 1287-1306

First online:

The individual cost of sick leave

  • Simen MarkussenAffiliated withRagnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research Email author 

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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.


Sickness absence Wage formation IV estimation

JEL Classification

J22 J31 J71