Women’s labor market participation after an adverse health event

An adverse health event can affect women’s work capacity as they need time to recover. The institutional framework in the Netherlands provides employment protection during the first two years after the diagnosis. In this study, we have assessed the extent to which women’s employment is affected in the short- and long-term by an adverse health event. We have used administrative Dutch data which follow women aged 25 to 55 years for four years after a medical diagnosis. We found that diagnosed women start leaving employment during the protection period and four years later they were about one percentage point less likely to be employed. Women in permanent employment did not reduce their employment during the protection period and reduced their employment with less than 0.5 percentage points thereafter. Furthermore, we found minor adjustments in the working hours in the short-term and no adjustments in the long-term. Lastly, we found that for wages, and not for employment and hours, adjustments could be related to the severity of the health condition: women diagnosed with temporary health conditions experienced a short-term wage penalty of about 0.5 to 1.7 percent and those diagnosed with chronic and incapacitating conditions experienced a long-term wage penalty of about 0.5 percent, while women diagnosed with some chronic and non-incapacitating conditions, such as respiratory conditions, experienced no wage changes in the short or long term.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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