Worklife Expectancy as a Function of Disability

Worklife Expectancy

Worklife Expectancy as a Function of Disability

May 8 2018

Mike Swift

An individual’s worklife expectancy is the ‘how long’ of lifetime earnings. It tells us the number of years of future earnings that should be considered when estimating a loss. A worklife expectancy can be either assumed (e.g., to Social Security or retirement age) or statistically measured. Worklife expectancy, when statistically measured, is an average that combines the probabilities of life, participation in the labor force, and employment rates. It adjusts for periods when an individual may be out of the labor force. It is driven by variables such as age, gender, education, and disability status.

The table below provides worklife expectancy values for persons with no disability, persons with a non-severe cognitive disability, and persons with a non-severe mobility disability. The worklife expectancy values take into account periods of unemployment and life events where an individual may not be in the labor force or employed (e.g., lay-offs, raising a family). Worklife expectancy tends to increase with higher levels of education. Individuals with either a non-severe cognitive disability or a non-severe mobility disability experience a substantial decline in worklife expectancy as shown in the table below.

The statistically average female has a lower worklife expectancy than the statistically average male. This results primarily from the ACS combining two different populations: females that are career-driven and those that opt not to work outside of the home. It is important to consider a female’s pattern of employment to determine whether a female exhibits a pattern of work more like that of the average female or the average male. Otherwise, it would be unfair to reduce a female’s worklife expectancy by 4 to 5 years.

Worklife Expectancies for 35-Year Old Persons

No Disability

Non-Severe Cognitive Disability

Non-Severe Mobility Disability

Male Worklife Expectancy

High School Graduate

25.0 yrs.

11.5 yrs.

11.6 yrs.

Baccalaureate Degree

28.0 yrs.

15.4 yrs.

18.8 yrs.

Female Worklife Expectancy

High School Graduate

21.7 yrs.

10.3 yrs.

12.3 yrs.

Baccalaureate Degree

24.1 yrs.

14.9 yrs.

18.9 yrs.

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