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In July 2009, the WHO declared the first flu pandemic in nearly 40 years. Although the health effects of the pandemic have been studied, there is little research examining the labor productivity consequences. Using unique sick leave data from the Chilean private health insurance system, we estimate the effect of the pandemic on missed days of work. We estimate that the pandemic increased mean flu days missed by 0.042 days per person-month during the 2009 peak winter months (June and July), representing an 800% increase in missed days relative to the sample mean. Calculations using the estimated effect imply a minimum 0.2% reduction in Chile's labor supply.

This research was conducted by the RAND Bing Center for Health Economics and RAND Labor & Population.

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