The Effect of Diabetes on the Labor Market

A study discovered that diabetes may have an adverse impact on the labor market due to work absence, unemployment, and disability pension. Danish national registers were queried to identify patients with type 1 (n=431) and type 2 (n=4,047) diabetes between 1994 and 2011; patients with diabetes were compared with non-diabetic controls (n=101,295). The authors employed multi-state Cox proportional hazards analyses to calculate hazards ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for transitions between work, sickness absence, unemployment, and disability pension. Compared with non-diabetics, those in both diabetes cohorts were significantly more likely to sustain sickness absence (type 1 diabetes women, HR, 1.34; 95% CI, 1.12-1.62; type 1 diabetes men, HR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.01-2.03 vs. type 2 diabetes women, HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.35-1.58; type 2 diabetes men, HR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.46-1.85). Unemployment HRs were higher among males with type 1 diabetes (1.25; 95% CI, 1.01-1.53) and both sexes with type 2 diabetes (women, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.03-1.16; men, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.08-1.27). Between the sexes, both diabetes cohorts had higher HRs of disability pension (type 1 diabetes women, HR, 1.90; 95% CI, 1.46-2.46; type 2 diabetes men, HR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.38-3.18 vs. type 2 diabetes women, HR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.62-1.96; type 2 diabetes men, HR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.86-2.40). Women with type 2 diabetes were the only patients less likely to return to work from sickness absence (HR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.86-0.98) or unemployment (HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.85-0.94). HRs for diabetes in terms of unemployment, sickness absence while unemployed, and disability pension were much higher for men compared with women. The study authors called for future research to take into account comorbidity and social gradient.