Higher school dropouts, lower employment found in young adults with diabetes

Young adults with diabetes suffer more high school dropout and lower employment, according to a new study published in the January 2012 issue of the journal Health Affairs.

“Diabetes has a marked effect on educational and labor-market outcomes,” wrote the authors in the article. “By age thirty, many people with diabetes are already on a lower employment trajectory—in part because of reduced education—which paints a sobering picture for a nation with a growing burden of disease.”

The researchers from Yale University analyzed data from approximately 15,000 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in 1994-95, with follow ups in 1996, 2001-02, and 2008.

The study found that the high school dropout rate is 5 to 7 percent higher for young adults with diabetes compared to those without the disease. Researchers estimate that this higher dropout rate could translate to an additional $10 billion in societal costs.

Young adults with diabetes can expect a 8 to 13 percent lower college attendance rate than their peers. For young adults with diabetes, having a parent with diabetes may reduce the likelihood of attending college by 4 to 6 percentage points, even with their own disease under control.

Researchers estimate that having diabetes causes an overall reduction of about a quarter of a year of schooling.

“We calculated that diabetes reduces human capital by nearly 150,000 schooling years for this set of cohorts,” write the article’s authors.

Labor market effects
Employment also suffers. The data showed that a 30-year old person with diabetes is ten percent less likely to be employed than a person without diabetes.

For those with diabetes who do have jobs, they are 10 percent more likely to call in sick due to health problems.

A person with a job can expect an annual earnings penalty of $1,500 to $6,000 if he or she has diabetes. That’s a potential loss of more than $160,000 over a 40-year working life.

’Chronic disease crisis’
“The United States continues to be enmeshed in a chronic disease crisis,” said the authors in the research article. “Major contributors to the problem are obesity and its consequences, including diabetes.”

About 8 percent of the US population lives with diabetes. That’s about 23 million people.

According to the article, obesity and diabetes are a severe burden on the larger US economy. The cost of diabetes is estimated at $200 billion a year, up from tens of billions of dollars two decades ago. Obesity-related medical spending is more than $100 billion a year.

Source: Health Affairs

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