Belgian workers take sick leave nearly four times as often as U.S. workers, mostly attributed to Belgian law, which grants full salary the first month and then government-guaranteed 80-percent pay indefinitely. A recent study, noted in a January Wall Street Journal report, found that only 5 percent of Belgian leave-takers were proven malingerers, but that the biggest medical problem now is easily-diagnosed "depression" (exacerbated by the worsening economy), leading to free-form medical leave-taking and creative treatments often unchallenged, such as for the man who frolicked on the soccer field, bought an Alfa Romeo, and reconnected with old friends (all of which, not surprisingly, said his doctor, lessened his depression).

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