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Absenteeism research has often been criticized for using inappropriate analysis. Characteristics of absence data, notably that it is usually truncated and skewed, violate assumptions of OLS regression; however, OLS and correlation analysis remain the dominant models of absenteeism research. This piece compares eight models that may be appropriate for analyzing absence data. Specifically, this piece discusses and uses OLS regression, OLS regression with a transformed dependent variable, the Tobit model, Poisson regression, Overdispersed Poisson regression, the Negative Binomial model, Ordinal Logistic regression, and the Ordinal Probit model. A simulation methodology is employed to determine the extent to which each model is likely to produce false positives. Simulations vary with respect to the shape of the dependent variable's distribution, sample size, and the shape of the independent variables' distributions. Actual data,based on a sample of 195 manufacturing employees, is used to illustrate how these models might be used to analyze a real data set. Results from the simulation suggest that, despite methodological expectations, OLS regression does not produce significantly more false positives than expected at various alpha levels. However, the Tobit and Poisson models are often shown to yield too many false positives. A number of other models yield less than the expected number of false positives, thus suggesting that they may serve well as conservative hypothesis tests.


Suggested Citation
Sturman, M. C. (1996). Multiple approaches to absenteeism analysis (CAHRS Working Paper #96-07). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.