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Lost productive life years caused by chronic conditions in Australians aged 45–64 years, 2010–2030

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Globally, there has been a substantial increase in the number of years lived with disability (YLDs) over the past 20 years. The YLDs for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries were estimated as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Disease study: global YLDs from all causes had increased from 583 million in 1990 to 777 million in 2010.1 The main contributors to YLDs were mental and behavioural disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, and diabetes or endocrine diseases. While the Global Burden of Disease study measured YLDs at particular time points, governments have become increasingly concerned by lost productive life years (PLYs) caused by chronic disease at particular time points. We define PLYs as the loss of productivity that results from individuals not being able to participate in the labour force because of their chronic conditions. Few studies have undertaken a thorough assessment of the impact of chronic disease on labour productivity, and most have focused only on the burden of single diseases. Recent studies have shown that chronic disease can negatively affect the labour market and related outcomes, such as reduced income, greater welfare dependency and earlier retirement.2

The significant costs of premature retirement caused by chronic disease have been highlighted for most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.3