Report explores links between Long Covid and economic inactivity

Older workers who self report Long Covid are significantly more likely to be economically inactive 30 weeks or more after having Covid.

Older woman works at laptop with facemask on


The relationship between Long Covid and economic inactivity is significantly higher in people over 50, according to a new report from the Office for National Statistics [ONS].

The report on people who self report Long Covid symptoms 30 to 39 weeks after infection says the odds of those with Long Covid being economically inactive – with retirement excluded from the picture –  were 71.2% higher than pre-infection for those aged between 50 and 64. That compares with an average figure of 45.5%. The ONS says women were affected for longer than men.

Nevertheless, retirement rates remained similar for those with or without Long Covid in the 50 to 64 year old age group. Moreover, the difference in inactivity rates between people with and without self-reported Long Covid was greatest among those aged 35 to 49 years, with rates of 19.9% and 12% respectively.

The report says that in July 23.3% of people aged 16 to 64 years with self-reported Long Covid were economically inactive, compared with 21.4% of those without self-reported Long Covid. Between July 2021 and July 2022, the inactivity rate among working-age people with self-reported Long Covid grew by 3.8%, compared with 0.4% among working-age people without self-reported Long Covid.

Daniel Ayoubkhani, Data and Analysis for Social Care and Health, Office for National Statistics, said: “Today’s analysis shows that working-age people are less likely to participate in the labour market after developing Long COVID symptoms than they were before being infected with coronavirus (COVID-19). Furthermore, this relationship between self-reported Long COVID and inactivity for reasons other than education or retirement is strongest among people aged 50 years or above. Long COVID may therefore have contributed to the decreasing levels of participation seen in the UK labour market during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it is unlikely to be the only reason, and further research is needed into other possible factors such as indirect health effects of the pandemic.”

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