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22 Aug 2006

Objective Trends and Perceptions of Health Status in Germany

Christina Felfe

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European Network of Economic Policy Research Institutes (ENEPRI) Research Report No. 21 / 18 pages

This paper identifies previous trends and future prospects surrounding the health status of the population and the utilisation of health care services, based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984-2004). Health status and the demand for health care services is examined in conjunction with the following variables: health satisfaction; the degree to which health status hinders the fulfilment of daily life activities; disability and chronic illnesses; and the probability, frequency and duration of hospital stays. The first part of the paper describes the main trends associated with these indicators. Then a further analysis is undertaken with regard to the determinants of health status. For this latter purpose, a sample of about 21,000 persons (aged 16 and older) has been used. The determinants are assessed against two measures of health status: a subjective measure, which is self-reported satisfaction with health, and an objective measure, which is the degree of being hindered by health in daily life activities. An interesting question explored alongside the findings is whether health care expenditures have increased because the overall health of the population has worsened or because expectations have risen.