Medical Innovation, Education, and Labor Market Outcomes of Cancer Patients

33 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2019

See all articles by Sung-Hee Jeon

Sung-Hee Jeon

Statistics Canada

Vincent Pohl

Mathematica Policy Research, Washington, DC

Date Written: March 7, 2019


Innovations in cancer treatment have lowered mortality, but little is known about their economic benefits. We assess the effect of two decades of improvement in cancer treatment options on the labor market outcomes of breast and prostate cancer patients. In addition, we compare this effect across cancer patients with different levels of educational attainment. We estimate the effect of medical innovation on cancer patients’ labor market outcomes employing tax return and cancer registry data from Canada and measuring medical innovation by using the number of approved drugs and a quality-adjusted patent index. While cancer patients are less likely to work after their diagnosis, we find that the innovations in cancer treatment during the 1990s and 2000s reduced the negative employment effects of cancer by 63% to 70%. These benefits of medical innovation are limited to cancer patients with postsecondary education, raising concerns about unequal access to improved treatment options.

Keywords: Medical Innovation, Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Labor Supply, Employment, Earnings, Returns to Education

JEL Classification: I12, I14, I24, I26, J22, O31

Suggested Citation

Jeon, Sung-Hee and Pohl, Vincent, Medical Innovation, Education, and Labor Market Outcomes of Cancer Patients (March 7, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Sung-Hee Jeon

Statistics Canada

Ottawa, Ontario

Vincent Pohl (Contact Author)

Mathematica Policy Research, Washington, DC ( email )

1100 1st Street, NE, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20002-4221
United States

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