The impact of diabetes on workforce participation: results from a national household sample

Health Serv Res. 2004 Dec;39(6 Pt 1):1653-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2004.00311.x.


Objective: Diabetes is a highly prevalent condition that results in substantial morbidity and premature mortality. We investigated how diabetes-associated mortality, disability, early retirement, and work absenteeism impacts workforce participation.

Data source: We used the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a national household sample of adults aged 51-61 in 1992, as a data source.

Study design: We conducted cross-sectional analyses on the baseline HRS data, and longitudinal analyses using data from eight years of follow-up. We used two-part regression models to estimate the adjusted impact of diabetes on workforce participation, and then estimated the economic impact of diabetes-related losses in productivity.

Principal findings: Diabetes is a significant predictor of lost productivity. The incremental lost income due to diabetes by 1992 was 60.0 billion US dollars over an average diabetes duration of 9.7 years. From 1992 to 2000, diabetes was responsible for 4.4 billion US dollars in lost income due to early retirement, 0.5 billion US dollars due to increased sick days, 31.7 billion US dollars due to disability, and 22.0 US dollars billion in lost income due to premature mortality, for a total of 58.6 billion dollars in lost productivity, or 7.3 billion US dollars per year.

Conclusions: In the U.S. population of adults born between 1931 and 1941, diabetes is associated with a profound negative impact on economic productivity. By 1992, an estimated 60 billion US dollars in lost productivity was associated with diabetes; additional annual losses averaged 7.3 billion US dollars over the next eight years, totaling about 120 billion US dollars by the year 2000. Given the rising prevalence of diabetes, these costs are likely to increase substantially unless countered by better public health or medical interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / economics*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / physiopathology
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Efficiency
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States / epidemiology