Lost productive life years caused by chronic conditions in Australians aged 45-64 years, 2010-2030

Med J Aust. 2015 Sep 21;203(6):260.e1-6. doi: 10.5694/mja15.00132.


Objectives: To estimate (1) productive life years (PLYs) lost because of chronic conditions in Australians aged 45-64 years from 2010 to 2030, and (2) the impact of this loss on gross domestic product (GDP) over the same period.

Design, setting and participants: A microsimulation model, Health&WealthMOD2030, was used to project lost PLYs caused by chronic conditions from 2010 to 2030. The base population consisted of respondents aged 45-64 years to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers 2003 and 2009. The national impact of lost PLYs was assessed with Treasury's GDP equation.

Main outcome measures: Lost PLYs due to chronic disease at 2010, 2015, 2020, 2025 and 2030 (ie, whole life years lost because of chronic disease); the national impact of lost PLYs at the same time points (GDP loss caused by PLYs); the effects of population growth, labour force trends and chronic disease trends on lost PLYs and GDP at each time point.

Results: Using Health&WealthMOD2030, we estimated a loss of 347,000 PLYs in 2010; this was projected to increase to 459,000 in 2030 (32.28% increase over 20 years). The leading chronic conditions associated with premature exits from the labour force were back problems, arthritis and mental and behavioural problems. The percentage increase in the number of PLYs lost by those aged 45-64 years was greater than that of population growth for this age group (32.28% v 27.80%). The strongest driver of the increase in lost PLYs was population growth (accounting for 89.18% of the increase), followed by chronic condition trends (8.28%).

Conclusion: Our study estimates an increase of 112 000 lost PLYs caused by chronic illness in older workers in Australia between 2010 and 2030, with the most rapid growth projected to occur in men aged 55-59 years and in women aged 60-64 years. The national impact of this lost labour force participation on GDP was estimated to be $37.79 billion in 2010, increasing to $63.73 billion in 2030.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Efficiency*
  • Employment / economics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical