Abstract. Worker absenteeism constitutes a significant loss of work-time and therefore has important implications for both household income and firm productivity. Despite this, the economics profession has been somewhat laggard relative to other disciplines in addressing the phenomenon. The situation is, however, changing, with recent years witnessing a mild flurry of activity. The aim of this paper is to maintain, and if possible, enhance this momentum. We do this firstly by developing some basic theoretical ideas which we consider to be central to an economic analysis of absence. In particular, we address the often cited claim that observed absence is unequivocally inefficient. Second, by reviewing some of the key contributions, we attempt to assess where the literature on the economics of absence stands at present, as well as suggesting some potentially fruitful lines of future enquiry.