The individual cost of sick leave
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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.