Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Bergen, Department of Economics

No 01/10: Teachers' Sickness Absence in Primary Schools: A Panel Data Multilevel Analysis

Espen Bratberg (), Tor Helge Holmås (), M. Kamrul Islam () and Kjell Vaage ()
Additional contact information
Espen Bratberg: University of Bergen, Postal: Fosswinckels gate 14, 5020 BERGEN
Tor Helge Holmås: UniRokkansenteret, Postal: Nygårdsgaten 5, 5020 BERGEN
M. Kamrul Islam: UniRokkansenteret, Postal: Nygårdsgaten 5, 5020 BERGEN
Kjell Vaage: University of Bergen, Postal: Fosswinckels gate 14, 5020 BERGEN

Abstract: This paper uses longitudinal employer–employee data and multilevel models to examine both observed and unobserved variation of the probability and length of certified and self-certified sickness absence for Norwegian primary school teachers. We argue that self-certified absences are particularly prone to moral hazard. We find that most of the observed teacher, school and municipality characteristics are significantly associated with the probability and the length of sickness absence. However, most of the unexplained variation is attributed to teacher factors rather than influenced by variation at the school or municipality levels. Teacher characteristics that may be associated with less attachment to the workplace increase the probability of self-certified absences. Moreover, the unexplained variation in schools and at municipality level is higher for self-certified than for certified sickness absence. There may be some scope for reducing self-certified absence by improving work conditions or changing administrative practices, but our main policy conclusion is that to reduce sickness absence, the main focus must be on individual health and the incentives to report sick.

Keywords: sickness absence; employer-employee data; multilevel analysis

JEL-codes: J21; J22; J28

30 pages, June 1, 2010

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