Gone fishing! Reported sickness absenteeism and the weather
Authors: Jingye Shi and Mikal Skuterud
A fundamental challenge in informing employer-employee agency problems is measuring employee shirking activity. We identify the propensity of employees to misreport health in order to exploit favorable weather by linking Canadian weather data and survey data on short-term spells of sickness absenteeism among indoor workers during the non-winter months. The results point to a clear tendency for reported sickness absenteeism to rise with the recreational quality of the weather. Comparing across workers suggests larger marginal weather effects where shirking costs are higher, which we show is consistent with employees’ marginal utility of outdoor leisure increasing in the interaction of their health and weather quality. We discuss the implications of our findings for flexible vacation policies and survey respondents’ trust in the confidentiality guarantees of statistical agencies.
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