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Individual determinants of work attendance: evidence on the role of personality

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We investigate the influence of personality as measured by the Big Five personality scale on absenteeism using the 2005 wave of the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP). Estimates of a double hurdle negative binomial regression allow us to test hypotheses on the influence of the Big Five personality traits on work attendance. Our findings augment previous results on the link between personality and absenteeism by analysing representative data and including a large set of control variables typically not available in small scale surveys. We find clear negative correlations between the absence probability and Conscientiousness among women. For male employees a negative correlation with the incidence of absence is observed for the Agreeableness dimension. When looking at the length of absence occurrences Neuroticism is found to significantly influence male absenteeism despite controlling for the subjective health of the individual. Following the reasoning by Bowles et al. (2001) for the provision of effort by employees, employers might pay for incentive-enhancing preferences such as low Neuroticism among male employees because employers can only insufficiently monitor the true level of sickness of their employees and consequently want to avoid voluntary absenteeism.

Keywords: J20; M12; M51; absenteeism; count data model; five-factor model; personality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Talanx Service AG, Hannover, Germany 2: Faculty of Business Administration and Economics,University of Paderborn, Warburger Strasse 100D-33098 Paderborn, Germany

Publication date: 2013-07-01

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