Journal article

Mental health and productivity at work: Does what you do matter?

Melisa Bubonya, Deborah A Cobb-Clark, Mark Wooden



Much of the economic cost of mental illness stems from workers’ reduced productivity. Using nationally representative panel data we analyze the links between mental health and two alternative workplace productivity measures – absenteeism and presenteeism (i.e., lower productivity while attending work) – explicitly allowing these relationships to be moderated by the nature of the job itself. We find that absence rates are approximately five percent higher among workers who report being in poor mental health. Moreover, job conditions are related to both presenteeism and absenteeism even after accounting for workers’ self-reported mental health status. Job conditions are relatively more importa..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This paper uses confidentialized unit record file data from the HILDA Survey. The HILDA Survey Project was initiated and is funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research. The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either the DSS or the Melbourne Institute. The authors are grateful for financial support from an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP140102614) and for helpful comments from the editor and two anonymous referees.