Increase in number of workers incapacitated due to illness

The State Commission of Physicians for Health and Work Capacity Examination has published its annual report for 2007. The report presents detailed data on disabilities and their causes. Data is provided according to age, gender and regional aspects for the population as a whole, including working people and non-working people. The report finds that, in general, the incidence of disabilities has increased in 2007.

The State Commission of Physicians for Health and Work Capacity Examination (Veselības un darbspēju ekspertīzes ārstu valsts komisija, VDEĀVK) is a direct administrative body under the control of the Republic of Latvia (RL) Ministry of Welfare (Labklājības ministrija, LM). Its main function is to provide an expert evaluation of disabilities.

Each year, the committee prepares a public report presenting the results of its work and statistical indicators on disabilities – separately and together for working and non-working people – according to gender and region. The report offers detailed information about the causes of disabilities by type of illness.

Report findings

First-time disability for working people increasing

In 2007, 47.6% of all persons who were deemed to have first-time disability were working people, representing an increase from 42.1% in 2006. In total, about 4,935 working people were deemed to have first-time disability in 2007, almost 19% more than in 2006 (4,153 working people). The committee reports that the increase in the number of working people with disabilities could be linked to the fact that, from 1 January 2007, working people are subject to expert assessment after six months of temporary work incapacity, which is a shorter period than previously.

The first-time disability intensity indicator – indicating the incidence of disability per 10,000 inhabitants – for working people aged 16 years and older in 2007 amounted to 51%, which is 6.9 percentage points higher than in 2006 (Figure 1). The disability intensity indicator for working people (53.6%) was lower than that for non-working people (56.3%). The committee’s report attributes this outcome to increased unemployment. In the non-working group, 73.9% of first-time disability cases were persons of working age (16–59 years) and a link was evident between disability and unemployment.

For the purpose of determining the group of people with recurring disabilities, some 6,259 working people with disabilities were analysed. This exercise revealed that 26.1% of the total number of disabled persons monitored had a recurring disability in 2007, compared with 20% in 2006.

First-time disability intensity indicator, by activity status, 2003–2007 (%)

First-time disability intensity indicator, by employment status, 2003–2007 (%)

Note: The first-time disability intensity indicator shows the proportion of people with first-time disability per 10,000 inhabitants aged 16 years and older.

Source: Ministry of Welfare, Public report for 2007, Riga, 2008

First-time disability intensity indicator, by employment status, 2003–2007 (%)

Slight gender differences

In 2007, of all persons diagnosed with a disability for the first time, 51.2% were men and 48.8% were women, compared with 50.8% and 49.2% respectively in 2006. Recurring disability occurred more often for women (53.6%) than for working men (46.4%). These figures compare with 53% and 47% respectively in 2006. The proportion of working women diagnosed with recurring disabilities increased by 4.2%, while the figure for men showed a 1.6% rise.

Improvement only in few regions

In comparison with 2006, the disability intensity indicator for working people has increased in 2007 in four out of seven national cities and in almost all administrative districts. Only one city (Daugavpils in southeast Latvia) and one county (Gulbene in the northeast of Latvia) can be found where the disability intensity indicator for working people was lower than the national average and has declined over the past year.

Malignant tumours dominate

The breakdown of first-time disabilities by illness among working people in 2007 was similar to 2006. In order of significance, the causes of disability were: malignant tumours (26.7% of disabled persons); circulatory system illnesses (21.8%), muscular, skeletal and connective tissue illnesses (16.6%), as well as injuries, poisonings and the results of other external impacts (10.9%).

The level of recurring disabilities by illness among working people in 2007 was also similar to that of the findings in 2006. In order of significance, the causes of disability included: malignant tumours (22.7% of disabled persons); circulatory system illnesses (17.3%), muscular, skeletal and connective tissue illnesses (16.0%), as well as injuries, poisonings and the results of other external impacts (8.8%).

When looking at the gender distribution of recurring disabilities, working women were primarily deemed to have recurring disabilities due to the following medical conditions: malignant tumours (for 1,009 women), muscular, skeletal and connective tissue illnesses (607), and circulatory system illnesses (377). Working men, on the other hand, were primarily deemed to have recurring disabilities due to circulatory system illnesses (for 669 men), malignant tumours (364), injuries, poisonings and the results of other external impacts (359).

Disabilities highest among people of working age

In 2007, a significant majority of disability cases among working people occurred in the 40–59 age group (70.9% of disabled persons, compared with 76.6% in 2006). In the 16–39 age group, 653 working people suffered from disabilities (13.2%, compared with 12.7% in 2006). For those aged 60 years and over, 780 people (15.8%, compared with 10.7% in 2006) had a disability.

The breakdown of recurring disability cases by the age group of disabled working people was similar in 2007 to the previous year’s findings. Recurring disability was mostly incurred by people aged 40–59 years (4,320 disabled persons or 71.4%). In the 16–39 age group, recurring disability has been deemed for 1,142 persons (18.9%), while 585 persons aged 60 years and over (9.7%) had a recurring disability. The respective figures for 2006 for these age groups were 72.4%, 20.7% and 6.9%.

Reference

Republic of Latvia Ministry of Welfare, Public report for 2007 (in Latvian, 2.05Mb PDF) State Commission of Physicians for Health and Work Capacity Examination, Riga, 2008.

Raita Karnite, Institute of Economics, Latvian Academy of Sciences

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