The sickness absence of mothers is twice as high after the birth of the first child and up until 15 years after that compared to fathers, according to a new Swedish report.
It said that the increase was related to the fact that there was an increase in the number of hours of gainful employment for women, in particular women with small children.
"Gainful employment, combined with women taking a larger responsibility for children and family, might be an explanation," said Per Johansson.
In the first half of 2008, 14.5 million days of sickness absence were paid out to women and 9.2 million to men in Sweden.
Johansson said this was not a specific Swedish phenomenon but characterized countries with a large share of women on the labour market.
The differences between men and women cannot be explained by women more often working within lines of business and sectors with a bad working environment.
Women have a larger sickness absence in all lines of business, notwithstanding if women or men are the dominating group.