Workplace Presenteeism, Job Substitutability and Gender Inequality

46 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2020 Last revised: 16 Aug 2020

See all articles by Ghazala Azmat

Ghazala Azmat

Sciences Po

Lena Hensvik

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation

Olof Rosenqvist

Uppsala University

Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

Following the arrival of the first child, women's absence rates soar and become less predictable due to the greater frequency of their own sickness and the need to care for sick children. In this paper, we argue that this fall in presenteeism in the workplace hurts women's wages, not only indirectly and gradually, through a slower accumulation of human capital, but also immediately, through a direct negative effect on productivity in unique jobs (i.e., jobs with low substitutability). Although both presenteeism and job uniqueness are highly rewarded, we document that women's likelihood of holding jobs with low substitutability decreases substantially relative to men's after the arrival of the first child. This gap persists over time, with important long-run wage implications. We highlight that the parenthood wage penalty for women could be reduced by organizing work in such a way that more employees have tasks that, at least in the short run, can be performed satisfactorily by other employees in the workplace.

JEL Classification: J16, J22

Suggested Citation

Azmat, Ghazala and Hensvik, Lena and Rosenqvist, Olof, Workplace Presenteeism, Job Substitutability and Gender Inequality (July 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14982, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3650095

Ghazala Azmat (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

Lena Hensvik

IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation ( email )

Box 513
751 20 Uppsala
Sweden

Olof Rosenqvist

Uppsala University

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20
Sweden

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