Productivity Loss in Puerto Rico’s Labor Market due to Cancer Mortality

Karen J. Ortiz-Ortiz, Javier Pérez-Irizarry, Heriberto Marín-Centeno, Ana P. Ortiz, Natalia Torres-Berríos, Mariela Torres-Cintrón, Taína de la Torre-Feliciano, José Laborde-Rivera, William A. Calo, Nayda R. Figueroa-Vallés


Background: In Puerto Rico (PR), cancer is the second leading cause of death and the disease that causes most premature deaths, representing about 15% of them. Thus, premature death due to cancer decreases the productivity capacity in PR. Objective: This study aimed to estimate the labor-market productivity loss in PR during 2004 as a result of premature mortality due to overall cancer and cause-specific cancers. Methods: A model based in the incidence-based approach and in the human capital approach was developed to estimate the labor-market productivity loss. Economic data were obtained from the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) of the PR Community Survey (PRCS). Mortality data were obtained from the Vital Statistics of the PR Department of Health. Results: The productivity costs of all cancer deaths were estimated to be approximately $64 million (in constant value). The cancer deaths that contributed the most to productivity loss were lung and bronchus, colorectal, breast, and liver and intrahepatic bile duct. Conclusions: Although these results must be interpreted with caution, this study contributes to show a broader picture that includes the economic dimension of cancer in our society. These estimates imply that productivity cost due to cancer mortality have a great burden in PR. The leading cancer sites that generate most productivity losses are highly preventable or can be diagnosed early or are related to tobacco consumption. This study should be considered within the framework of future cost analyses for the development of health and cancer control policies.


cancer mortality; productivity loss; human capital approach; burden of cancer

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