Assessing the Value of Mandated Sick Pay Schemes for the U.S.

Publication Date


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


This research project assesses the impact and value of mandated sick pay for the US. The US is the only industrialized country worldwide without universal access to paid sick leave. Only half of all employees have access to paid leave. The first part of the project uses the representative 2011 Sick Leave Supplement of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to picture and comprehensively assess the US sick leave landscape. The findings will show which socio-demographic groups have access to paid and unpaid sick leave in the US. The second part of the research project models the pros and cons of sick pay schemes theoretically. From an economic perspective, the main value of paid sick leave is to incentivize employees with contagious diseases to call in sick. Contagious employees induce negative externalities and spread infectious diseases to co-workers and customers. We then estimate the theoretical model using exogenous variation in the generosity of Germany’s federally mandated sick pay scheme. The results will show whether and how a less generous sick pay scheme induces contagious presenteeism and leads to the spread of contagious diseases.

Grant Product

The Pros and Cons of Sick Pay Schemes: Testing for Contagious Presenteeism and Shirking Behavior
Upjohn Institute working paper 15-269, 2015

Profiling the U.S. Sick Leave Landscape: Presenteeism among Females
Health Services Research 51(6)(December 2016): 2305-2317, DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.12471

KOF Working Papers No. 394, September 2015 under same title

IZA Discussion Paper No. 8850, February 2015 under same title

Canadian Centre of Health Economics Working Paper No. 150014, September 24, 2015, under same title

DIW Berlin Discussion Paper No. 1509, September 2015) under same title

Profiling the United States Sick Leave Landscape: Presenteeism amongst Females, Susser and Ziebarth, November 2015

NBER Working Paper 22530, August 2016 under same title

The pros and cons of sick pay schemes: testing for contagious presenteeism and noncontagious absenteeism behavior. Journal of Public Economics 156 (December 2017): 14-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.07.003