Gatekeeping Versus Monitoring: Evidence from a Case with Extended Self-Reporting of Sickness Absence

22 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015

See all articles by Gaute Torsvik

Gaute Torsvik

University of Bergen - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Kjell Vaage

University of Bergen - Department of Economics

Date Written: December 29, 2014

Abstract

We examine the impact of a policy reform that gave employees in a municipality extended rights to self-declare sickness absence. To identify the effect of bypassing the physician as an absence certifier we contrast the development of absence in the reform municipality with absence in similar municipalities. We use a standard difference-in-difference comparison and the synthetic control method to quantify the effect of the reform. Using these methods we find that the reform reduced sickness absence by more than 20%. It is the incidence of absence spells that declines, not their length. To explain this result, we emphasize that the reform not only removed the physician from the picture, it also put the employer more firmly into it by prescribing a detailed follow up scheme (phone calls, meetings, flowers) for the employer (the first line-leader) and the employee calling in sick. The combination of extended self-certification and employer involvement can be taken as a sign of trust and concern for the employees’ well-being or as enhanced monitoring. Both interpretations can explain the drop in absence we observe.

Keywords: sickness absence, moral hazard, trust

JEL Classification: H30

Suggested Citation

Torsvik, Gaute and Vaage, Kjell, Gatekeeping Versus Monitoring: Evidence from a Case with Extended Self-Reporting of Sickness Absence (December 29, 2014). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5113. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2548964

Gaute Torsvik (Contact Author)

University of Bergen - Department of Economics ( email )

Fosswinckelsgt. 6
N-5007 Bergen, 5007
Norway
55589225 (Phone)
55589210 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Kjell Vaage

University of Bergen - Department of Economics ( email )

Fosswinckelsgt. 6
N-5007 Bergen, 5007
Norway
+47 5 558 9206 (Phone)
+47 5 558 9210 (Fax)

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