September 2017

IZA DP No. 10991: Activation against Absenteeism: Evidence from a Sickness Insurance Reform in Norway

revised version published in: Journal of Health Economics, 2018, 62, 60-68

I evaluate a program aimed at strictly enforcing a requirement that people on long-term sick leave be partly back at work unless explicitly defined as an exception. Employing the synthetic control method, I find that the reform reduced work-hours lost due to absenteeism by 12 % in the reform region compared to a comparison unit created by a weighted average of similar regions. The effect is driven by both increased part-time presence of temporary disabled workers and accelerated recovery. Musculoskeletal disorders was the diagnosis group declining the most. The findings imply large savings in social security expenditures.