Sickness Absence and Search Unemployment
43 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2004
Date Written: June 2004
The paper presents a model that allows a unified analysis of sickness absence and search unemployment. Sickness appears as random shocks to individual utility functions, interacts with individual search and labor supply decisions and triggers movements across labor force states. The employed worker prefers absence for sufficiently severe sickness and the unemployed worker may prefer non-participation if the disutility of search is amplified by sickness. The decisions governing labor force transitions are influenced by social insurance benefits available for sick or unemployed workers. We examine how these benefits affect individual decisions on absence and search and the implications for employment, unemployment and non-participation. The normative analysis of the socially optimal benefit structure suggests that there is, in general, a case for benefit differentiation across states of non-work. In particular, there is a case for a benefit structure that rewards active job search.
Keywords: sickness absence, search, unemployment, sickness benefits, unemployment
JEL Classification: J65, J68, C14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation