Voluntary Early Retirement More Common Among People with Diabetes, Study Shows

A new study, published in the journal Diabetologia, claims that people with diabetes, particularly those with type 1 diabetes, are more likely to exit the workforce early, leading to higher lost mean productivity costs and mean lost working years.

Olli Kurkella and colleagues at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, Finland, worked to compare workplace exit timing of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They also hoped to determine the role of chronic diabetes complications in early workplace exits.

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To do this, they identified people of working age (17-64) with diabetes in Finland’s national registers from 1988 to 2011. They collected info on these people’s pensions and deaths, medications, healthcare usage, and basic demographics.

Researchers defined early exit from the labor force as retiring or leaving before age 65. This also included people who died before this age.

People with type 2 diabetes exited the labor force at a median age of 58.3, while people with type 1 diabetes left the labor force at a median age of 54.

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Each diabetes-related complication was associated with an increased risk of leaving the workforce early, with the exception of eye-related complications. Diabetes complications, however, did not completely explain the tendency for people with diabetes to leave the workforce early.

The mean productivity costs associated with people with type 1 diabetes leaving the workforce were 1.4 times greater than for people with type 2 diabetes.

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“We found a marked difference in the patterns of risk of early exit between people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The difference was largest close to statutory retirement age,” the authors wrote. “On average, exits in the type 1 diabetes group occurred at an earlier age and resulted in higher mean lost working years and mean productivity costs. The potential of prevention, timely diagnosis, and management of diabetes is substantial in terms of avoiding reductions in individual well-being and productivity.”

The study highlights the importance of early diagnosis and proper treatment of diabetes so that people are able to stay in the workforce longer.

The study, titled “Association of diabetes type and chronic diabetes complications with early exit from the labour force: register-based study of people with diabetes in Finland,” was published in the journal Diabetologia.

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