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Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings


  • Baicker, Katherine
  • Cutler, David M.
  • Song, Zirui


With health care expenditures soaring, there is increasing interest in workplace-based disease prevention and health promotion as a means of improving health while lowering costs. We conduct a critical meta-analysis of the literature on costs and savings associated such programs, focusing on studies with particularly rigorous methods and examining effects on health care costs and absenteeism. We find that medical costs fall about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absentee day costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent. This average return on investment suggests that the wider adoption of such programs could prove beneficial for budgets and productivity as well as health outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Baicker, Katherine & Cutler, David M. & Song, Zirui, 2010. "Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings," Scholarly Articles 5345879, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:5345879

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    Cited by:

    1. Pedersen, Morten Saaby & Arendt, Jacob Nielsen, 2014. "Bargaining for health: A case study of a collective agreement-based health program for manual workers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 123-136.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:9:p:1543-:d:110258 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:izalpo:v:6:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40173-017-0080-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Christophe Moussu & Steve Ohana, 2016. "Do Leveraged Firms Underinvest in Corporate Social Responsibility? Evidence from Health and Safety Programs in U.S. Firms," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 135(4), pages 715-729, June.
    5. Brenda Wells, 2015. "Pharmaceutical Product Development and Liability With Chantix-super-®: A Teaching Case," Risk Management and Insurance Review, American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 18(2), pages 297-314, September.
    6. repec:gam:jsoctx:v:8:y:2018:i:1:p:15-:d:134175 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Joanne Castonguay & Benoit Dostie & Christian Moroy, 2011. "Initiatives de Promotion de la santé au travail : Un examen des enjeux et du contexte au Québec et au Canada," CIRANO Project Reports 2011rp-15, CIRANO.
    8. Nikayin, Fatemeh & Heikkilä, Marikka & de Reuver, Mark & Solaimani, Sam, 2014. "Workplace primary prevention programmes enabled by information and communication technology," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 326-332.
    9. Damon Jones & David Molitor & Julian Reif, 2018. "What Do Workplace Wellness Programs Do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study," NBER Working Papers 24229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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