2023/04: Job competition in civil servant public examinations and sick leave behavior
In several countries the entry system to access public service positions is the traditional public examination procedure. In this setting, candidates have to take passing exams that require a huge load of material to study, and therefore time. Candidates who are working while preparing the public exam may find it difficult to devote enough time to both tasks. Thus, they might experience increased stress/anxiety related to high stakes civil service recruitment testing. In this paper, we investigate the impact of new openings of civil servant positions on sickness absences. Using a unique administrative dataset on the universe of sickness absences and civil servant positions offered in Spain from 2009 to 2015, we find a significant increase in health-related absences several months before the examination date. In particular, this effect is stronger for individuals working in the educational sector as well as for calls offering a large number of positions. This effect is mostly driven by stress related absences. Finally, using data on medical visits (GP and specialist) we find evidence consistent with a deterioration in public sector workers’ health. Our results are important from a policy perspective as they highlight the existence of important negative consequences of the civil service recruitment process that have been previously overlooked.