Questioning the Stereotype of the “Malingering Bureaucrat”: Absence from Work in the Public and Private Sector in Germany

34 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020 Last revised: 26 Oct 2020

See all articles by Stephanie Prümer

Stephanie Prümer

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg-Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg

Claus Schnabel

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: November 2019

Abstract

Public sector employees are often said to have excessive rates of absence from work. Using representative survey data for Germany, we indeed find absenteeism of employees to be higher in the public than the private sector. The differences in the incidence and days of absence showing up in descriptive statistics are substantially reduced and partly disappear in our estimates of hurdle regression models controlling for individuals’ socio‐demographic characteristics, health status, professional activities, and for many workplace‐related factors. Nevertheless, the probability of staying home sick at least once a year is still 5.6 percentage points higher in the public sector, ceteris paribus. This finding refutes popular assertions that differences in absence rates between the sectors are mainly due to structural factors like different compositions of the workforce. We show that the same observable factors play a role for absenteeism in the public and private sector, but we cannot rule out that shirking may play a more important role in the public sector. Nevertheless, we conclude that the stereotype of the “malingering bureaucrat” seems to be an exaggeration, at least for Germany.

Suggested Citation

Prümer, Stephanie and Schnabel, Claus, Questioning the Stereotype of the “Malingering Bureaucrat”: Absence from Work in the Public and Private Sector in Germany (November 2019). Kyklos, Vol. 72, Issue 4, pp. 570-603, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3613098 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/kykl.12212

Stephanie Prümer (Contact Author)

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg-Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen Nürnberg ( email )

Fachbereich Rechtswissenschaft
Schillerstr. 1
Erlangen, DE 91054
Germany

Claus Schnabel

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg ( email )

Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung
Lange Gasse 20
D-90403 Nuernberg
Germany
+49 911 5302 330 (Phone)
+49 911 5302 721 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.arbeitsmarkt.rw.fau.de/english-version/staff/prof-dr-claus-schnabel/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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