Absenteeism for sickness is exceptionally high in Sweden, in both historical and international comparisons. Several studies have already been carried out in the field, but many pieces of the puzzle are still missing. In a new dissertation from Växjö University, the economist Maria Nilsson examines some fundamental mechanisms behind this absenteeism.
"Our attendance at work is influenced both by the possibility of being there and the motivation to be there or, more simply put: every morning we make a decision to go to work or stay at home. This decision is affected by how we feel, what duties we have, and our motivation to go to work," explains Maria Nilsson. "In other words there are many more factors that impact absenteeism besides pure health concerns."
The dissertation consists of three sections. The first study focuses on the importance of the structure of the sickness compensation system by analyzing the many reforms that were implemented in the 1990s. The dissertation shows that each reform that reduced sickness benefits was followed by reduced absenteeism for sickness. "Its obvious that sickness absenteeism is influenced by how large the benefits are," says Maria Nilsson. "When we make that decision to go to work in the morning, we factor in a number of different aspects, including our economy."
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