Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

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

No 06/12: Sick Leave Before, During and After Pregnancy

Karsten Marshall E. Rieck () and Kjetil Telle ()
Additional contact information
Karsten Marshall E. Rieck: University of Bergen, Norway, Postal: Department of Economics, Fosswinckelsgt. 14 , 5007 Bergen, Norway
Kjetil Telle: Statistics Norway, Postal: Statistics Norway, , Research Department, , Kongensgt. 6, 0033 Oslo, , Norway.

Abstract: Using registry data on every employed Norwegian woman giving birth to her first child during the period 1995–2008, we describe patterns of certified and paid sick leave before, during and after pregnancy. By following the same women over time, we can explore how observed sick leave patterns are – or are not – related to the women’s exiting (or reentering) employment. The results show that sick leave increases abruptly in the month of conception, and continues to grow throughout the term of pregnancy. Sick leave during pregnancy has been rising substantially compared with pre-pregnancy levels over the period 1995–2008, but this increase seems unrelated to women’s growing age at first birth. In line with hypotheses of women’s “double burden”, observed sick leave rates increase in the years after birth. However, when we handle some obvious selection issues – like sick leave during a succeeding pregnancy – the increase in women’s sick leave in the years after birth dissolves. Overall, we find little, if any, sign of the relevance of “double burden” hypotheses in explaining the excessive sick leave of women compared with men.

Keywords: Sick leave; pregnancy; female employment; double burden.

JEL-codes: C23; H55; I18; J13; J22

40 pages, May 8, 2012

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