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Older Europeans with diabetes and fear of work

Date:20 March 2019
Author:Viola Angelini
Diabetes in people aged 50+ reported being afraid of health limiting their ability to work by 16%. Imagesource:https://www.passeportsante.net/fr
Diabetes in people aged 50+ reported being afraid of health limiting their ability to work by 16%. Imagesource:https://www.passeportsante.net/fr

Among people aged between 50 and 65, diabetes significantly impacts perception about their ability to work. Research indicates the condition increased fear that health limits their ability to work, especially during the financial crisis.

Amongst people older than 65 years old, having diabetes reduces the likelihood of performing volunteering work by about 3 percentage points in comparison to people without diabetes. It also reduces the frequency at which they carry out such activity.

Diabetes prevalence in 50+ europeans afraid to health limits of work
Diabetes prevalence in 50+ europeans afraid to health limits of work

In our paper, we assessed the relationship between diabetes and productivity using data from the survey of health, ageing and retirement in Europe (share-project.org) in a representative sample of the 50+ population in European countries. We measured productivity by age: for those of working age, that is, from 50 to 65 years old, tested for fear about health limiting their ability to work. For the individuals above 65, we modelled productivity through volunteering activities. It should be mentioned that being afraid of health limiting work is one of the main outcomes in our study, which, as it is subjective, can be very sensitive to changes in an individual’s situation.

Our results showed that diabetes increases the likelihood people aged 50– 65 years old reported being afraid of health limiting their ability to work by 16 percent. This falls to 12 percent after controlling for clinical complications. This suggests a positive relationship between diabetes and the fear of health limiting work in people still of working age.

In terms of volunteering, significant differences have also been found between those doing charity work and those not. Those who are not formal volunteers had higher rates of diabetes prevalence than their counterparts (16 vs 11 percent).

With respect to diabetes prevalence, some differences can also be observed between countries. Diabetes prevalence is highest in the Czech Republic and Spain, with percentages of 20–23% of the population older than 65 years old. The lowest diabetes prevalence can be observed in Denmark and Switzerland, which barely get to 10% for people above 65 years old.

Further reading:

Rodriguez Sanchez, B., Alessie, R., Feenstra, T. L., & Angelini, V. (2018). The relationship between diabetes, diabetes-related complications and productive activities among older Europeans. European Journal of Health Economics, 19(5), 719-734. DOI: 10.1007/s10198-017-0911-9

The online version of this article contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

About the author

Viola Angelini
Viola Angelini
Associate Professor. Department of Economics, Econometrics & Finance. Faculty of Economics and Business.
www.rug.nl/staff/v.angelini/