The effect of education and the postponement of the onset of health limitations on the number of people suffering from health impairments in Austria, 2006 to 2051

Elke Loichinger, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)

Many existing estimates of the future number of people with specified health conditions (e.g. self-reported severe ill-health or not being able to perform certain ADLs) are done using a method that Batljan et al. call ‘simple demographic extrapolation’ (Batljan, Lagergren et al. 2009). This means that current prevalence rates of ill-health by age (and possibly sex) are multiplied with the respective future population numbers. This approach is based on the assumption that current rates of ill-health will prevail into the future and that only the composition of the population by age and sex will change. Since all developed countries are going to see an increase in the absolute number of their elder population, this approach inevitably leads to a projected increase in the number of people with ill-health. This analysis goes beyond this wide-spread approach and considers educational attainment besides age and sex. The result shows that adding information about the prevalence of health limitations by highest level of educational attainment to projections of populations’ future health leads to significantly different results compared to the analysis that does not include this factor. In addition, the effect of different assumptions about the future development of age-, sex- and education-specific patterns of health impairments on the total number of people who will suffer from them is being analyzed. The data source for calculations of age-, sex- and education-specific rates of health limitations is the latest national health survey, which was conducted in 2006 and 2007. The definition of impairment used for the present analysis is to what extent someone reports a health problem that has been hampering him or her in the execution of daily activities for 6 months or longer. Only those who reported being severely limited are labeled as having a health impairment.

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Presented in Session 46: Education and health/mortality

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