Health and Social Welfare Implications of an Ageing Population: What are the Uncertainties?
The rapid increase in life expectancy over the last century, as well as the ‘demographic shift’, has led to concerns about dependency ratios, population trends in disability, and the impact of these on the use of health and social services. Beyond the older age profile of populations in Europe, central elements of the contemporary demographic shift in industrialised countries are changes in family formation and household structure, increasing labour force participation among women, and decreasing labour force participation among older workers (as described by Boeri, Brugiavini and Maignan in this volume). These changes appear to be resulting in significant decreases in the level of informal care, received from relatives and friends, and, coupled with an ageing and possibly more dependent population, consequent greater dependency on formal, state-funded, care — for example long term care and help at home. So, in addition to concerns over the provision of state pensions, there are major concerns about the sustainability of government funded health and social services, and the economic impact of increasing demand on these services as the population ages (Hurd 1998, Townsend 1981, Walker 1981).
KeywordsLife Expectancy Labour Force Participation Socioeconomic Inequality Dependency Ratio Economic Position
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