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Women’s Labor Market Participation After an Adverse Health Event

Health and Labor Markets

ISBN: 978-1-78973-862-9, eISBN: 978-1-78973-861-2

Publication date: 11 July 2019


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 0.5–1.7 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 nonincapacitating conditions, such as respiratory conditions, experienced no wage changes in the short or long term.




The authors would like to thank the two anonymous referees and the editors for their helpful comments and suggestions. They would also like to thank seminar participants at the Seminar series at Utrecht University School of Economics (2016), Workshop on Absenteeism, Social insurance and Retirement (Oslo, 2016), Seminar at UMC (Utrecht, 2016), Workshop on Health and Labor Policy Evaluation, (Paris, 2017), Health and Labor Conference (Essen, 2017), Science day at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Hague, 2017), and IZA Workshop on Health and Labor Markets, Bonn, Germany (2017).


Kambourova, Z., Hassink, W. and Kalwij, A. (2019), "Women’s Labor Market Participation After an Adverse Health Event", Health and Labor Markets (Research in Labor Economics, Vol. 47), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 25-70.



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