Health and Inequality in Health in the Nordic Countries

COHERE Discussion Papers, University of Southern Denmark, 2017:6

36 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2017

See all articles by Terkel Christiansen

Terkel Christiansen

University of Southern Denmark

Jorgen Lauridsen

Centre of Health Economics Research, Department of Business and Economics; University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics

Carl Hampus Lyttkens

Independent

Thorhildur Ólafsdóttir

University of Iceland - Department of Economics

Hannu Valtonen

University of Eastern Finland

Date Written: June 6, 2017

Abstract

All five Nordic countries emphasise equal and easy access to healthcare. It is the purpose to explore to which extent the populations of these countries have reached good health and high degree of socio-economic equality of health. Each of the five countries has established extensive public health programmes, although with somewhat different emphasis on the causes of ill-health, such as individual behaviour or social circumstances. Attitudes have changed over time, though. We compare these countries to the UK and Germany by using data from the European Social Survey 2002 and 2012 in addition to OECD Statistics from the same years. Health is measured by self-assessed health in five categories, transformed to a cardinal scale using Swedish time trade-off weights. As socio-economic variable we use household income or length of education. Mean health, based on Swedish TTO weights applied to all countries, is above 0.93 in all the Nordic countries and the UK in 2012, while lower in Germany. Rates in good or very good health in the lower income half of the samples are above 0.6 in most countries and even higher in Iceland and Sweden, but below 0.5 in Germany. However, when displayed in a graph the concentration curves nearly follow the diagonal implying almost no income - or education related inequality in self-assessed health weighted by TTO based preferences. The difference is a natural consequence of using different methods. We compared four key life-style related determinants of ill health and found that while there were differences in relative levels between the countries, Germany had a relatively high level of three of these, followed by the UK. We found no association between level of resources used and health status. In general, the Nordic countries have accomplished good health for their populations and high degree of socioeconomic equality in health. Improvements in life-style related determinants of health would be possible, though.

Keywords: international comparison of health systems, health status, health equity

JEL Classification: I11, I14, I19

Suggested Citation

Christiansen, Terkel and Lauridsen, Jorgen and Lauridsen, Jorgen and Lyttkens, Carl Hampus and Olafsdottir, Thorhildur and Valtonen, Hannu, Health and Inequality in Health in the Nordic Countries (June 6, 2017). COHERE Discussion Papers, University of Southern Denmark, 2017:6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2981625 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2981625

Terkel Christiansen (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark ( email )

Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense, 5000
Denmark

Jorgen Lauridsen

Centre of Health Economics Research, Department of Business and Economics ( email )

Faculty of Social Sciences
Campusvej 55
DK-5230 Odense M
Denmark

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

DK-5230 Odense
Denmark

Carl Hampus Lyttkens

Independent ( email )

Thorhildur Olafsdottir

University of Iceland - Department of Economics ( email )

Aragata 14
IS-101 Reykjavik
Iceland

Hannu Valtonen

University of Eastern Finland ( email )

PO Box 111
Joensuu, 80100
Finland

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