Long-term Care in Denmark
The population is aging in Denmark, as in many other countries, due to increasing life expectancy and a low total fertility rate. This potentially puts the Danish welfare state under pressure. This paper discusses the demographic and socioeconomic situation of the elderly in Denmark, focusing on the health status and financial situation of the elderly, and the provision of long-term care (LTC). We rely on a combination of survey data, mainly from the Survey of Health and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), and high-quality register data covering the entire Danish population. We find that a large fraction of the elderly is in good health, but that those in the older age group, 85+, face considerably more functional limitations in daily living. One in three of the elderly receives some form of long-term care, and more than half the 85+ group. The paper further identifies a number of current challenges regarding organization of the long-term care sector, including recruitment of personnel for health care and LTC. Finally, the paper sheds light on the extent of informal care provided by family and friends. While informal care is offered voluntarily and is generally unpaid, it represents a substantial opportunity cost to society.
We thank the Novo Nordisk Foundation (grant no. NNF17OC0026542), and the Danish National Research Foundation for funding through its grant (DNRF-134) to Center of Economic Behavior and Inequality (CEBI). We are grateful to Julie Uldum Lyhr and Astrid Louise Waltenburg for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.