Cancer-related productivity losses in emerging economies

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Publication date: 
October, 2015
Presentation type: 
Oral presentation
Related staff: 
Dr Alison Pearce (former staff)
Prof Linda Sharp (former staff)

Background: When people die due to cancer, their contribution to society through paid work, called production, is lost. Previous estimates of cancer-related lost production have focussed on developed countries. However, developing nations bear a high burden of cancer, accounting for approximately 70% of the world’s annual cancer deaths. The aim of this analysis was to estimate the value of lost productivity due to cancer mortality in the rapidly emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

Methods: Based on the Human Capital Approach, we estimated the costs of lost productivity associated with premature cancer deaths in BRICS countries in 2012. We used GLOBOCAN estimates of cancer deaths by country, sex and age group, along with OECD and national data for workforce participation, unemployment, and wage rates. Sensitivity analyses examined the impact of changing assumptions about wages, life expectancy and discounting within the estimates.

Results: The total cost of cancer-related lost productivity in BRICS countries in 2012 was over €24 billion and was highest in China (€12.9 billion) and lowest in South Africa (€0.9 billion). When adjusted by number of deaths, lost productivity (per death) was highest in South Africa (€19,000), followed closely by Brazil (€14,000) and was lowest in India (€3,000). There were large differences between the countries in terms of lost productivity when examined by gender, age and cancer site. For example, the cancers contributing highest productivity losses were lung cancer in Russia (22% of total), South Africa (14%) and Brazil (13%), stomach cancer in India (11%), and liver cancer in China (31%).

Discussion: In many developing countries cancer now kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, however resources have not shifted correspondingly. Valuing cancer-related lost productivity can provide policy-makers with an additional perspective when identifying priorities for cancer prevention and control.

Published abstract: 
A Pearce, P Hanly, L Sharp, P Gupta, F Bray, YL Qiao, SM Wang, A Barchuk, I Soerjomataram
P Gupta
Conference/meeting title: 
International Association of Cancer Registries Annual Conference 2015
Event date: 
7 Oct 2015 to 10 Oct 2015
Mumbai, India

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