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Mental Health and Productivity at Work: Does What You Do Matter?

54 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2016 Last revised: 21 Apr 2016

Melisa Bubonya

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

School of Economics, University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Mark Wooden

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Date Written: April 17, 2016

Abstract

Much of the economic cost of mental illness stems from workers’ reduced productivity. We analyze the links between mental health and two alternative workplace productivity measures – absenteeism and presenteeism (i.e., lower productivity while attending work) – explicitly allowing these relationships to be moderated by the nature of the job itself. We find that absence rates are approximately five percent higher among workers who report being in poor mental health. Moreover, job conditions are related to both presenteeism and absenteeism even after accounting for workers’ self-reported mental health status. Job conditions are relatively more important in understanding diminished productivity at work if workers are in good rather than poor mental health. The effects of job complexity and stress on absenteeism do not depend on workers’ mental health, while job security and control moderate the effect of mental illness on absence days.

Keywords: Mental health, presenteeism, absenteeism, work productivity

JEL Classification: I12, J22, J24

Suggested Citation

Bubonya, Melisa and Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. and Wooden, Mark, Mental Health and Productivity at Work: Does What You Do Matter? (April 17, 2016). Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 16/16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2766100 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2766100

Melisa Bubonya

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, 3010
Australia

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark (Contact Author)

School of Economics, University of Sydney ( email )

Rm 370 Merewether (H04)
Sydney, NSW 2006 2008
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Mark Wooden

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research ( email )

Level 5, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street
Parkville, Victoria 3010
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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