Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

HERO Online Working Paper Series,
University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme

No 2010:2: Scandinavian long-term care financing

Martin Karlsson (), Tor Iversen () and Henning Øien ()
Additional contact information
Martin Karlsson: Technische Universität Darmstadt
Tor Iversen: Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, Postal: HERO / Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, P.O. Box 1089 Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway
Henning Øien: Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, Postal: HERO / Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, P.O. Box 1089 Blindern, NO-0317 Oslo, Norway

Abstract: In this paper, we compare and analyse the systems for financing long-term care for older people in the Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The three countries share common political traditions of local autonomy and universalism, and these common roots are very apparent when the financing of long-term care is concerned. Nevertheless, the Scandinavian systems for long- term care (LTC) exhibit some important deviations from the idealized “universal welfare state” to which these countries are normally ascribed. For example, user charges tend to be strongly dependent on earnings, which is incoherent with the general norm of flat-rate public services. Also, there is significant regional variation in the level of services provided, which is in direct contrast with the universalist ambitions. Overall, the Scandinavian countries distinguish themselves through their very high reliance on public spending in long-term care. It is unclear to what extent the Scandinavian model for financing of long term care will be sustainable as demographic change progresses in the next few decades.

Keywords: long term care; financing; welfare state; Scandinavia

JEL-codes: H42; H51; I11; I18; J14

24 pages, June 22, 2010

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