Long term care and social services (LTCaS) for older people are an important part of the Scandinavian welfare state. The fast growing number of elderly people in Sweden has caused many concerns about increases in future needs (and particularly costs) of age-related social programs such as LTCaS. The general aim of this dissertation is to examine how projected demographic changes may affect future needs for long-term care and services in Sweden assuming different trends in morbidity and mortality. The following data sources are used: national population registers, register data on inpatient/outpatient health care from region Skåne, the Swedish National Survey on Living Conditions (SNSLC) for the period 1975-1999. Three alternative methods to inform simple demographic extrapolations of needs for health and social care for the elderly are presented. Furthermore, a new method for demographic projections has been developed. According to our studies, the health of older people (measured as the prevalence of severe ill-health) has improved during the study period. Taking into account health status, when projecting future needs for LTCaS, will result in a fairly substantial reduction of the rate of the demographically influenced increase in projected LTCaS needs. The changes in population composition regarding education and mortality differentials per educational level may have a significant impact on the number of the elderly in the future. On the other hand, the projected increase in the number of older people suffering from severe ill-health, as a consequence of population ageing, may be counterbalanced to a large extent by changes in the educational composition towards a higher proportion of the population having a high educational level and lower prevalence of severe ill-health. We need to improve our planning tools in order to support policy-makers to plan for uncertainty concerning future needs and demand for LTCaS.
© Ilija Batljan, 2007