The Rise in Life Expectancy, Health Trends among the Elderly, and the Demand for Care - A Selected Literature Review

Bjorn Lindgren

NBER Working Paper No. 22521
Issued in August 2016
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

The objective is to review the evidence on (a) ageing and health and (b) the demand for health- and social services among the elderly. Issues are: does health status of the elderly improve over time, and how do the trends in health status of the elderly affect the demand for health- and elderly care? It is not a complete review, but it covers most of recent empirical studies.

The reviewed literature provides strong evidence that the prevalence of chronic disease among the elderly has increased over time. There is also fairly strong evidence that the consequences of disease have become less problematic due to medical progress: decreased mortality risk, milder and slower development over time, making the time with disease (and health-care treatment) longer but less troublesome than before. Evidence also suggests the postponement of functional limitations and disability. Some of the reduction in disability can be attributed to improvements in treatments of chronic diseases, but it is also due to the increased use of assistive technology, accessibility of buildings, etc. The results indicate that the ageing individual is expected to need health care for a longer period of time than previous generations but elderly care for a shorter.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22521

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