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The cost of lost productivity due to premature mortality associated with COVID-19: a Pan-European study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp


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© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.Background: Economic cost estimates have the potential to provide a valuable alternative perspective on the COVID-19 burden. We estimate the premature mortality productivity costs associated with COVID-19 across Europe. Methods: We calculated excess deaths between the date the cumulative total of COVID-19 deaths reached 10 in a country to 15th May 2020 for nine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland). Gender- and age-specific excess deaths and Years of Potential Productive Life Lost (YPPLL) between 30 and 74 years were calculated and converted into premature mortality productivity costs €2020 for paid and unpaid work using the Human Capital and the Proxy Good Approaches. Costs were discounted at 3.5%. Results: Total estimated excess deaths across the nine countries were 18,614 (77% in men) and YPPLL were 134,190 (77% male). Total paid premature mortality costs were €1.07 billion (87% male) with Spain (€0.35 billion, 33.0% of total), Italy (€0.22 billion; 20.6%) and The Netherlands (€0.19 billion; 17.5%) ranking highest. Total paid and unpaid premature mortality costs were €2.89 billion (77% male). Premature mortality costs per death ranged between €40,382 (France) and €350,325 (Switzerland). Spain experienced the highest premature mortality cost as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product (0.11%). Conclusion: Even in the initial period of the pandemic in Europe, COVID-19-related premature mortality costs were significant across Europe. We provide policy makers and researchers with a valuable alternative perspective on the burden of the virus and highlight potential economic savings that may be accrued by applying timely public health measures.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hanly P, Ahern M, Sharp L, Ursul D, Loughnane G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Health Economics

Year: 2021

Volume: 23

Pages: 249-259

Online publication date: 21/08/2021

Acceptance date: 08/07/2021

ISSN (print): 1618-7598

ISSN (electronic): 1618-7601

Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH


DOI: 10.1007/s10198-021-01351-8


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