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Open Access Research article

The personal and national costs of lost labour force participation due to arthritis: an economic study

Deborah J Schofield12, Rupendra N Shrestha1, Richard Percival3, Megan E Passey4, Emily J Callander12* and Simon J Kelly3

Author Affiliations

1 NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

2 Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

3 National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia

4 University Department of Rural Health (North Coast), University of Sydney, Lismore, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:188  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-188

Published: 3 March 2013

Abstract

Background

The costs of arthritis to the individuals and the state are considerable.

Methods

Cross-sectional analysis of the base population of Health&WealthMOD, a microsimulation model of 45 to 64 year old Australians built on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers and STINMOD, an income and savings microsimulation model.

Results

Individuals aged 45 to 64 years who had retired early due to arthritis had a median value of AU$260 in total weekly income whereas those who were employed full time were likely to average more than five times this. The large national aggregate impact of early retirement due to arthritis includes AU$9.4 billion in lost GDP, attributable to arthritis through its impact on labour force participation.

When looking at the ongoing impact of being out of the labour force those who retired from the labour force early due to arthritis were estimated to have a median value of total savings by the time they are 65 of as little as $300 (for males aged 45–54). This is far lower than the median value of savings for those males aged 45–54 who remained in the labour force full time, who would have an estimated $339 100 of savings at age 65.

Conclusions

The costs of arthritis to the individuals and the state are considerable. The impacts on the state include loss of productivity from reduced workforce participation, lost income taxation revenue, and increased government support payments – in addition to direct health care costs. Individuals bear the economic costs of lost income and the reduction of their savings over the long term.

Keywords:
Economic impacts; Income; Taxation; GDP; Arthritis; Retirement