Disease-Related Loss to Government Funding: Longitudinal Analysis of Individual-Level Health and Tax Data for an Entire Country

Published:September 17, 2022DOI:


      • Maintaining a healthy society is an important determinant of national economic status, with the health of the working population determining a substantial proportion of tax revenue.
      • In a scenario of no disease or injury in New Zealand among working age adults, we estimate that tax revenue gains may increase by 4.3% or US $672 9 million.
      • This modeling provides support for health policies that prioritize preventive interventions to reduce disease burden, particularly from mental health and cardiovascular disease.


      The objective of this longitudinal analysis was to estimate funding loss in terms of tax revenue to the New Zealand (NZ) government from disease and injury among working age adults.


      Linked national health and tax data sets of the usually resident population between 2006 and 2016 were used to model 40 disease states simultaneously in a fixed-effects regression analysis to estimate population-level tax loss from disease and injury. To estimate tax revenue loss to the NZ government, we modeled a counterfactual scenario where all disease/injury was cause deleted.


      The estimated tax paid by all 25- to 64-year-olds in the eligible NZ population was $15 773 million (m) per annum (US dollar 2021), or $16 446 m for a counterfactual as though no one had any disease disease-related income loss (a 4.3% or $672.9 m increase in tax revenue per annum). The disease that—if it had no impact on income—generated the greatest impact was mental illness, contributing 34.7% ($233.3 m) of all disease-related tax loss, followed by cardiovascular (14.7%, $99.0 m) and endocrine (10.2%, $68.8 m). Tax revenue gains after deleting all disease/injury increased up to 65 years of age, with the largest contributor occurring among 60- to 64-year-olds ($131.7 m). Varied results were also observed among different ethnicities and differing levels of deprivation.


      This study finds considerable variation by disease on worker productivity and therefore tax revenue in this high-income country. These findings strengthen the economic and government case for prevention, particularly the prevention of mental health conditions and cardiovascular disease.


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