01 Jul 2004

Ageing, Health Care and Retirement in Europe

Use of Health and Nursing Care by the Elderly

Erika Schulz

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European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes (ENEPRI) Research Report No. 2, 127 pages

If the hypothesis that people live longer and in better health is true, it could be expected that the changes in the health of the elderly have important consequences for the further demand for health services, the need for long-term care and also for the development of health expenditures. But other trends could also be essential to determining the extent and structure of the demand for health care and health expenditures. In the case of long-term care, there are other important effects that concern the structure of health care and institutional settings. Most long-term care recipients currently live in households and their caregivers are predominantly members of the family – especially daughters, daughters-in-law and spouses. The increasing labour force participation of women may affect the future supply of informal family care-giving and may increase the demand for professional home care and institutional care. In all EU countries family structures are changing: the proportion of elderly persons living with their children has fallen.
Projections on the use of health care and the need for long-term care require an analysis of the current situation in each EU country and a study of the determinants for using both (especially the influence of health). This paper, produced as part of the ENEPRI AGIR project, presents the results of data collection and analyses for EU countries that participated in the study – Belgium, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and Germany. Additionally, data are provided for Denmark. Along with analysing the data provided, DIW has investigated the relationships between health care utilisation, health status and age respectively with long-term care-giving at home, based on the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). Further, long-time series data from the OECD Health Data 2002 and 2003 are used to show the changes in the utilisation and supply of health care services over time.