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Family illness and temporary work absence

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The literature contains much research examining the economics of absenteeism and the relationship between an individual's labour supply and his or her own health status. But very little has examined the effect of a family illness on an individual's labour supply. This paper presents an analysis of the length of temporary work absences subsequent to a family illness. Conceptually, workers have varying degrees of family-specific psychic work costs: the greater those costs, the greater the familial pull in the event of a family problem, and therefore the greater the degree of work loss subsequent to a family illness. Empirical results obtained using microdata from the University of Michigan PSID indicate that family factors do have a significant impact on the duration of work absence. The results would seem to carry policy relevance in light of the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 1996

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