BACKGROUND: Obesity is associated with adverse labor market outcomes. We examine whether undergoing bariatric surgery is associated with better labor market outcomes such as lower risks of unemployment and sickness absence.
METHODS: This is a register-based cohort study of 9126 patients undergoing bariatric surgery from 2005 to 2013 and a reference group of 10,328 individuals with obesity. Age: 18-60 years, body mass index (BMI): 32-60 kg/m2. Participants were either working, unemployed, or on sickness absence at baseline. Inverse probability of treatment weighting was used to account for baseline differences between the two groups. Relative risk ratios of labor market participation were estimated at 1 year, 3 years, and 5 years of follow-up.
RESULTS: Women who had undergone bariatric surgery had a higher risk of unemployment 1 year (RRR = 1.20 (95% CI: 1.02-1.41)) and 5 years (RRR = 1.23 (95% CI: 1.05-1.44)) after surgery; however, men with bariatric surgery had a lower risk of unemployment after 5 years (RRR = 0.71 (95% CI: 0.55-0.92)). The risk of sickness absence was higher at all follow-up time points for both men and women who had undergone bariatric surgery compared with non-operated references with obesity.
CONCLUSIONS: Men undergoing bariatric surgery had a lower risk of unemployment 5 years after surgery compared with non-operated men with obesity; however, women presented a higher risk of unemployment after 5 years. The risk of sickness absence was higher for both men and women up to 5 years after undergoing bariatric surgery.