‘It may be that employers are more reluctant to promote or offer pay increases to people they see as less productive’
People suffering from depression are facing yet another thing to worry about: lost earnings, according to a report.
Working-age Canadians who live through a major depressive episode go on to experience a loss in earnings that persists for at least a decade, found an Institute for Work & Health (IWH) study.
Specifically, Canadian men who experienced a depressive episode in a given year earned $115,000 less, on average, over the next 10 years compared with men who had not experienced depression in the same year.
Meanwhile, women who experienced a depressive episode earned $71,000 less, on average, compared with those who had not over the same time period, according to the study based on nearly 800,000 records of people who took part in Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) during the period 2003 to 2014.
The drop in earnings in the early stage is easy to explain.
“This drop in earnings in the first year surrounding depression may be due to people being less productive at work, taking time off work for a disability leave, or leaving a job altogether,” said Kathleen Dobson, IWH Research Associate who led the study.
“When someone is depressed, it really affects their presenteeism at work. It affects their effectiveness and their concentration in particular,” said Dr. Dorian Lo, president of Express Scripts Canada, in an interview with Canadian Occupational Safety.
But the difference in earnings in the long run is a bigger question, said Dobson.
“It may be that employers are more reluctant to promote or offer pay increases to people they see as less productive. It may be that people with depression stay in lower-paying jobs, potentially to keep their health benefits, or don’t switch to higher-paying jobs for fear of the work stress they may entail. Or perhaps people don’t have stable employment over the decade following a depressive episode.”
“These are avenues that we definitely need to explore in future research.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, employees’ mental health is linked to the quality of employer support that they receive, according to a report from Morneau Shepell released in July 2020.