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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(9), 3930-3953; doi:10.3390/ijerph10093930

Relative Deprivation and Sickness Absence in Sweden

1,* , 2
1 Department of Economic History and Centre for Economic Demography, Lund University, P.O. Box 7083, Lund 22007, Sweden 2 Department of Economics and Centre for Economic Demography, Lund University, P.O. Box 7082, Lund 22007, Sweden 3 Demography Unit, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, Stockholm 10691, Sweden
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 July 2013 / Revised: 14 August 2013 / Accepted: 16 August 2013 / Published: 29 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Inequalities in Health)
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Background: A high prevalence of sickness absence in many countries, at a substantial societal cost, underlines the importance to understand its determining mechanisms. This study focuses on the link between relative deprivation and the probability of sickness absence. Methods: 184,000 men and women in Sweden were followed between 1982 and 2001. The sample consists of working individuals between the ages of 19 and 65. The outcome is defined as experiencing more than 14 days of sickness absence during a year. Based on the complete Swedish population, an individual’s degree of relative deprivation is measured through income compared to individuals of the same age, sex, educational level and type. In accounting for the possibility that sickness absence and socioeconomic status are determined by common factors, discrete-time duration models were estimated, accounting for unobserved heterogeneity through random effects. Results: The results confirm that the failure to account for the dynamics of the individual’s career biases the influence from socioeconomic characteristics. Results consistently suggest a major influence from relative deprivation, with a consistently lower risk of sickness absence among the highly educated. Conclusions: Altering individual’s health behavior through education appears more efficient in reducing the reliance on sickness absence, rather than redistributive policies.
Keywords: sickness absence; Sweden; relative deprivation; duration analysis sickness absence; Sweden; relative deprivation; duration analysis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Helgertz, J.; Hess, W.; Scott, K. Relative Deprivation and Sickness Absence in Sweden. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 3930-3953.

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