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This paper examines how missed income due to illness impacts household fragility. Specifically, it shows that paid sick leave laws, which provide households insurance against illness-related income shocks, reduce consumer bankruptcy. Using a panel dataset at the county-quarter level, this paper exploits the geographic and temporal variation in the adoption of paid sick leave laws to implement a difference-in-differences and event study analysis. It finds that paid sick leave laws reduce consumer bankruptcy filings by approximately 11%; this effect is seen within three quarters of the law’s implementation and remains constant in magnitude and significance thereafter. As paid sick leave laws may come at a cost to businesses, this paper also examines the impact of such laws on business bankruptcy filings—it shows that paid sick leave laws have little to no impact on business bankruptcy filings.

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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivsLicense, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

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