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Original scientific paper

The influence of age and family responsibility on the number of absences and days lost

B. Petz ; Institut za medicinska istraživanja Jugoslavenske akademije znanosti i umjetnosti Zagreb

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An analysis of absences in 1952 in a group of 622 male workers of a metal factory in Great Britain was carried out. The group was divided into 3 age groups: (1) young workers (20-29 years), (2) middle-aged workers (30-49 years), and aged workers (50-64 years). With regard to family responsibility, the workers were divided as follows: (I) single (S), (2) with 1 dependent member (mostly married men without children) (+1), (3) with 2 dependent members (mostly married men with a child) (+2), (4) with 3 or more dependent members (mostly married men with 2 or more children (≥ +3). Absences were divided into (1) those due to illness and accidents, (2) unauthorized absences, and (3) absences with permission. The results are summarized as follows:
(1) The average number of absences is influenced in the first place by the degree of family responsibility, and in the second place by the age. The average number of days lost, however, is influenced in the first place by the age of workers.
(2) The average number of absences is the highest in the group of young workers, and the lowest in the middle-aged workers. A high percentage of absences in young workers is the result of a high number of short absences in this age group.
(8) The average number of days lost is the lowest in young and highest in aged workers. This is due to the fact that the highest percentage of days lost relates to the absences due to illness, and the older the workers are, the longer these absences last.
(4) The highest number of absences and days lost are observed in sing-le men.
In comparison with other groups, unauthorized absences are also most frequent in single men
(5) The highest number of absences in single men cannot be explained by the fact that single men are mainly young men, because old single men have even more absences.
(6) The groups +2 is the group with least absences and days lost.
(7) The groups + 1 and ≥ +3 are between these two extremes.
(8) One-day absences represent the bulk of all absences (more than 75%).
(9) The absences due to illness represent the smallest percentage of absences, but as they last long, they account for the highest number of days lost.
(10) The highest percentage of absences is due to unauthorized (short) absences, but the number of days lost due to such absences is rather low.
(11) There is an insignificant increase with the age in the average number of absences due to illness. The duration of i1lness, however, rises significantly with the age of workers.
(12) The average number of unauthorized absences is the highest in young people, but decreases and stabilizes in older people (except in older single men where it is constantly rising).
(13) The average number of absences with permission is nearly the same in all age groups, and low in all groups, being relatively highest in the group +2.
(14) The average duration of illness is the highest in the group +2, lowest in single men.
(15) In all the subjects, and particularly in all family and age groups, the distribution of all types of absences does not fit to the Poisson distribution.
(16) The Poisson distribution is a bad fit to the observed distribution of absences due to illness, of unauthorized absences, as well as of absences with permission.
The author thanks Mr. J. W. Whitfield, Medical Research Council, Industrial Psychology Research Group, Psychology Department, University College, London, for his valuable advice, and Messrs. R. Shepherd and J. Walker, from the same institution, for the material on absences put at the author's disposal. Special thanks are due to Mr. Shepherd who was actively engaged in the arrangement of the material and an extremely helpful partner in the first (London) phase of this work.


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