Young workers have wage losses in the year after work disability

In brief

  • Earnings losses caused by a work disability can occur among young workers early in their labour market career.
  • Documenting the economic impacts of work injuries among young workers provides guidance to policy-makers on the importance of controlling hazards in the workplace where young adults work.

Why was this study done?

Adult workers with permanent or temporary disability experience losses in earnings. When a person has a disability from a work injury early in life, it can have a greater impact on career and earnings than a disability occurring later in life. This study looked at earning losses that young workers experienced in the year after a work absence due to a work-related disability.

How was the study done?

The study focused on young workers aged 16 to 24 years from 1993 to 2003, using data from the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID). This survey of Canadian households captures information on the economic well-being of individuals and families over time. The study included 173 young workers who had a work-disability absence of more than one week. They were compared to 795 young people who did not have an absence. Researchers had income information for at least three years – the year before the disability, during and after – based on their tax files or from interviews.

What did the researchers find?

In the year after an absence due to work disability, young workers had earning losses totaling about $1,000, compared to those who did not have an absence. Researchers considered the possibility that the group with a disability worked fewer hours or returned to school to train for a different career, but these did not appear to be the cause of the loss.

What are some strengths and weaknesses of the study?

This is the first study that examined the impact of work-related disability on earnings among young workers. The study was limited in that there was no information on the nature or severity of the injury. This information would have provided more detail on the impact of work disability absences.

Publication Information



Breslin FC, Tompa E, Zhao R, Pole JD, Smith P, Hogg-Johnson S


Scandinavian Journal of Work & Environmental Health, 2007: vol. 33, no. 3, pp. 192-197