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The Employment and Income Effects of Eight Chronic and Acute Health Conditions

Publication Details

  • The Employment and Income Effects of Eight Chronic and Acute Health Conditions (WP 15/15)
  • Published: 8 Dec 2015
  • Status: Current
  • Author: Dixon, Sylvia
  • Pages: (3),v,52
  • ISBN: 978-0-908337-37-8 (Online)
  • Ref. No: WP 15/15
  • Pub. type: Working Papers
  • JEL Classification: I1

The Employment and Income Effects of Eight Chronic and Acute Health Conditions

Published 8 Dec 2015

Author: Sylvia Dixon


This paper examines the impact of eight different health conditions on the employment rates and incomes of working-aged New Zealanders who develop them. The conditions studied are stroke, traumatic brain injury, coronary heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breast cancer, melanoma, and prostate cancer. The paper focuses on 20-59 year olds who were in wage or salaried employment at the time they were first diagnosed with the condition, and survived for at least four years post-diagnosis. Using administrative data from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), it estimates the impacts that the illness or injury had on their employment, income support, earnings and regular personal incomes, over the following four years. Impacts are estimated by comparing the post-diagnosis employment and incomes of those who developed the condition with those of matched comparison groups.

We find evidence of significant employment rate reductions, income support increases, and income losses in the four years after first diagnosis for six of the eight conditions (stroke, traumatic brain injury, coronary heart disease, diabetes, COPD and breast cancer). After four years, the estimated negative impacts on the proportion who were employed ranged from 2.6 percentage points (for diabetes) to 19 percentage points (for stroke). The estimated negative impacts on monthly personal incomes ranged from 3% (for COPD) to 15% (for stroke). The employment and income impacts of traumatic brain injury, coronary heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer decreased in size during the four years after diagnosis, but remained significant. There was little improvement in the average employment and income effects of stroke during the four-year follow-up period. In the case of COPD, an initially very small impact on employment and incomes grew gradually larger.


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Executive summary

1 Introduction

2 Methods

3 Impact estimates

4 Conclusion

5 References

Appendix 1: Background information on the eight conditions and their health impacts

Appendix 2: Profiles of the study populations and matched comparison groups

Appendix 3: Supplementary tables

twp15-15.pdf (888 KB) pp. (3), i-v, 1–52


The author would like to thank Tony Blakely, Bronwyn Croxson, Michele Morris, Gail Pacheco, Simon Ross, Anton Samoilenko, Talo Talosaga, Kendra Telfer and Martin Tobias for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. The author takes responsibility for any remaining errors or shortcomings.


The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the author(s). They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury or the New Zealand Government. The New Zealand Treasury and the New Zealand Government take no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in these working papers. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.

The results in this report are not official statistics - they have been created for research purposes from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) managed by Statistics New Zealand. Ongoing work within Statistics New Zealand to develop the IDI means it will not be possible to exactly reproduce the data presented here.

Access to the anonymised data used in this study was provided by Statistics New Zealand in accordance with security and confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975. Only people authorised by the Statistics Act 1975 are allowed to see data about a particular person, household, business or organisation. The results in this report have been confidentialised to protect these groups from identification.

Careful consideration has been given to the privacy, security and confidentiality issues associated with using administrative and survey data in the IDI. Further detail can be found in the privacy impact assessment for the Integrated Data Infrastructure available from Statistics New Zealand.[1]

The results are based in part on tax data supplied by Inland Revenue to Statistics New Zealand under the Tax Administration Act 1994. These tax data must be used only for statistical purposes, and no individual information may be published or disclosed in any other form or provided to Inland Revenue for administrative or regulatory purposes.

Any person who has had access to the unit-record data has certified that they have been shown, have read and have understood section 81 of the Tax Administration Act 1994, which relates to secrecy. Any discussion of data limitations or weaknesses is in the context of using the IDI for statistical purposes and is not related to the data’s ability to support Inland Revenue’s core operational requirements.

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