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The impact of diabetes on productivity in China – published online 27/04/2019

Figure from Hird paper

Thomas R. Hird, Ella Zomer, Alice Owen, Lei Chen, Zanfina Ademi, Dianna J. Magliano, Danny Liew

Diabetes can cause reduced workforce participation and productivity whilst at work. However, current estimates of the economic burden of diabetes in China do not incorporate diabetes-related productivity loss. In this issue, Hird et al (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-019-4875-4) used life table modelling to estimate productivity-adjusted life years (PALYs) lost among those with diabetes over the working lifetime of the Chinese population. Among the 56.4 million people with diabetes of working age in China in 2017 with simulated follow-up to retirement age, diabetes was predicted to reduce years of life lived by 22.7 million (3.7%). Taking into account diabetes-related labour force dropout, absenteeism, presenteeism (reduced efficiency at work) and premature mortality, diabetes also caused the loss of 75.8 million PALYs (15.1%). This equates to an estimated Chinese ¥17.4 trillion (US$2.6 trillion) loss in gross domestic product (GDP) over the working lifetime of the cohort, highlighting the long-term economic consequences of diabetes in the Chinese population. The authors state that, given the considerable economic impact of these productivity losses, prevention of diabetes and its complications should be considered an investment with potentially large economic benefits in the longer term.

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