Aims: Early exit from the workforce has been proposed to be one of the unfavorable consequences of diabetes. We examined whether early exit from the workforce differed between persons who were and were not diagnosed with diabetes during their work career.
Methods: The cohort included 12,726 individuals of the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, born between 1934 and 1944. Using data from nationwide registers, the cohort was followed up from early adulthood until they transitioned into retirement or died. Work-loss years were estimated using the restricted mean work years method.
Results: During a follow-up of 382,328 person-years for men and 349 894 for women, 36.8% transitioned into old age pension and 63.2% exited workforce early. Among men, 40.5% of those with and 32.8% of those without diabetes transitioned into old age pension (p=0.003). The corresponding numbers for women were 48.6% and 40.4% (p = 0.013), respectively. Mean age at exit from the workforce was 60.1 (95% confidence interval [CI], 59.6 to 60.7) years among men with diabetes and 57.6 (95% CI, 57.2 to 58.0) years among men without diabetes (p = 0.016). Among women, corresponding ages were 61.4 (95% CI, 60.8 to 61.9) years for those with diabetes and 59.5 (95% CI, 59.3 to 59.7) years for those without diabetes (p < 0.001). The difference in mean restricted work-loss years according to diabetes was 2.5 (95% CI 0.5 to 4.6) for men and 1.9 (95% CI 1.0 to 2.8) for women.
Conclusion: Among individuals followed up throughout their work career, those with a diabetes diagnosis exited the workforce approximately two years later compared to those without diabetes.
Keywords: Aging; Diabetes medication; Diabetes mellitus; Disability pension; Early exit from workforce; Epidemiology; Life course; Retirement.