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Hmm ... offhand my guess is that stress levels increase as economic grown decreases, and higher stress levels are associated with poor health.

Livio, interesting post, I like it.

You need to check to see if maternity/parental leave numbers are included there. Maternity and parental leave was substantially expanded during the 2000s, which is also when the economy was booming, so that would give you a spurious correlation.

Something else that might be driving your findings:

During an economic downturn, the people who keep their jobs are people with secure jobs e.g. teachers, nurses, people who work in large corporations e.g. banks.

Those secure jobs also tend to have provisions for paid sick days - and when people can take sick days, they do.

During an economic downturn, the people who lose their jobs tend to be people who work in industries like construction, sales, etc.

Those jobs tend to be ones where if you don't show up, you don't get paid.

So people show up.

It would be interesting to see a comparison of cyclical vs. secular effects of fluctuations in economic activity within a particular industry.

Good point on the maternity/parental leave though the national data would probably not be sufficient to control for it. There is the same data available on a provincial basis which would allow for an analysis with more observations as well as provincial variations.

Livio - to see if there's anything coming out of maternity/parental leave you could break up the sample into years prior to 2000 and years post 2000, as that's when the change took place:


You could also look at some US data.

Interestingly enough, when you plot the data as a time series, days off due to illness/disability decline from 1987 to the mid 1990s and then they start to increase afterwards. As for days off due to family/personal reasons, they rise from 1987 to 1996 then drop sharply and then resume an upward trend again.

Population aging and/or increased rates of female labour force participation?

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